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Taking Sides in Scientific Research? The Struggle for the Right to Participate in Public Decision-Making Related to a Mining Project in Brazil

  • Aline Rose Barbosa PereiraEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Rights book series (CHREN, volume 3)

Abstract

This chapter is based on my PhD research on the Minas-Rio iron-ore mining project, which is currently being implemented in Brazil despite strong contestation. Assisted by environmentalists, researchers and lawyers, local groups have been mobilizing inter alia for their right to information and to participate effectively in decision-making processes in order to fight the loss and contamination of their livelihoods. Under Brazilian law, official decision-making within the environmental licensing process must respect the rights to information and participation. However, these rights are undermined in everyday juridical-administrative procedures and processes. Based on the theoretical debates about legal proceduralization and following an action research approach, I have tried to understand the mechanisms that lead to a hollowing out of the rights to information and participation in an attempt to produce knowledge that supports local peoples’ rights. The chapter also sets out to reflect upon ethical and methodological implications of action research. While the objectivity of social sciences has been generally questioned, the normative outlook of action researchers and their siding with one faction in a conflict necessitates even more explicit reflections about positionality and subjectivity in research. I maintain that including the perspective of actors who traditionally are ignored by political and economic authorities is justified on academic, normative and social grounds.

Notes

Acknowledgements

The research on which this chapter is based would not have been possible without intense and enriching dialogue with many persons in Conceição do Mato Dentro, Diamantina and Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil, who shared their time, their knowledge and much of their daily lives with me from June 2014 to June 2015. I also thank ZEF and the DAAD for the resources and support provided to my doctoral studies and to my field research in Brazil. I thank my colleagues from the Doctoral Program of the University of Barcelona Law School and Doctor Antonio Giménez Merino for the invaluable discussions and learning opportunities that helped me to advance data analysis and writing my dissertation and for the support during the elaboration of this chapter.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Development Research (ZEF)University of BonnBonnGermany

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