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Enacting the Corporation

Enacting the Corporation: An American Mining Firm in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia

Marina Welker
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 306
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  • Book Info
    Enacting the Corporation
    Book Description:

    What are corporations, and to whom are they responsible? Anthropologist Marina Welker draws on two years of research at Newmont Mining Corporation's Denver headquarters and its Batu Hijau copper and gold mine in Sumbawa, Indonesia, to address these questions. Against the backdrop of an emerging Corporate Social Responsibility movement and changing state dynamics in Indonesia, she shows how people enact the mining corporation in multiple ways: as an ore producer, employer, patron, promoter of sustainable development, religious sponsor, auditable organization, foreign imperialist, and environmental threat. Rather than assuming that corporations are monolithic, profit-maximizing subjects, Welker turns to anthropological theories of personhood to develop an analytic model of the corporation as an unstable collective subject with multiple authors, boundaries, and interests.Enacting the Corporationdemonstrates that corporations are constituted through continuous struggles over relations with-and responsibilities to-local communities, workers, activists, governments, contractors, and shareholders.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95795-4
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  6. Note on Pseudonyms and Quoted Sources
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-32)

    What is a corporation? What does it do? To whom is it responsible? This book, a study of the Denver-based Newmont Mining Corporation and its Batu Hijau Copper and Gold Mine in Sumbawa, Indonesia, shows that each of these questions can be answered in multiple ways. Newmont does many things. These include mining ore; employing workers; expelling waste; building mosques, schools, and clinics; and gathering intelligence on environmental activists and Muslims. In popular, activist, and scholarly accounts, publicly traded corporations like Newmont often figure as actors single-mindedly seeking to maximize profits for shareholders, which is seen as their overarching, legally...

  8. CHAPTER 1 “We Need to Newmontize Folk”: A New Social Discipline at Corporate Headquarters
    (pp. 33-66)

    Chris Anderson’s administrative assistant escorted me to the thirty-sixth floor of the Wells Fargo Center for my first appointment with Newmont’s Social Responsibility group executive in June 2003. We emerged from the elevator into a festive scene. A set of paintings Newmont had commissioned from Warlpiri artists had just arrived from Australia, addressed to Anderson under his adopted Warlpiri name. Executives and consultants were trying them out in their offices and on hallway walls, and Anderson was explaining the importance of the flying ant motifs in the paintings, the cosmology of places they contained, and how one renowned artist could...

  9. CHAPTER 2 “Pak Comrel Is Our Regent Whom We Respect”: Mine, State, and Development Responsibility
    (pp. 67-98)

    One rainy evening in January 2002, the head of the regency (kabupaten) of Sumbawa, an administrative territory then covering the western half of the island, paid a rare visit to the subdistrict where the Batu Hijau mine had been operating for around two years. Newmont’s Community Relations manager, whom, following local conventions, I will call Pak Comrel (Mr. or Father Community Relations), introduced the regent (bupati) to an audience seated in gender-segregated rows of plastic chairs under a tent erected in the elementary school courtyard of Sekongkang Atas village. Pak Comrel and the regent exchanged the mutual praise that tends...

  10. CHAPTER 3 “My Job Would Be Far Easier If Locals Were Already Capitalists”: Incubating Enterprise and Patronage
    (pp. 99-128)

    When I interviewed Mark, a manager for Batu Hijau’s catering contractor, PT Prasmanindo Boga Utama (PBU), he launched straight into the numbers and statistics he figured I was after. PBU employed 619 people to staff Batu Hijau’s mess halls and commissary. Five were expats, 80 percent were lokal, from the province of Nusa Tenggara Barat (which includes the islands of Lombok and Sumbawa), and 40 percent were lokal-lokal, defined as from the region stretching from the town of Taliwang to the village of SP2. One hundred ninety-eight women, 421 men; 401 single, 218 married. The numbers were up to date,...

  11. CHAPTER 4 “We Identified Farmers as Our Top Security Risk”: Ethereal and Material Development in the Paddy Fields
    (pp. 129-156)

    Prospective entrepreneurs were not the only ones invited to Newmont trainings. In July 2002, twenty residents of villages in the Sumbawan subdistrict of Sekongkang embarked on a Training of Trainers, a Newmont-sponsored ten-day agricultural program. By day, under the simple bamboo-and-palm-frond structure that was part of a farmers’ “laboratory” constructed by Batu Hijau’s Community Development Department, facilitators led participants through a packed program beginning with games, role playing, and icebreakers, moving on to social, historical, and biological analysis exercises and then on to tutorials on composting, making organic pesticides, and pH testing of soil. By night, the participants were supposed...

  12. CHAPTER 5 “Corporate Security Begins in the Community”: The Social Work of Environmental Management
    (pp. 157-182)

    In June 2002, around thirty environmental activists from across the Indonesian archipelago convened a Women’s Empowerment Workshop in the village of Tongo. Workshop participants gathered to discuss the environmental hazards of large mines, their differential impact on men and women, and tactics for transforming village-mine relations. After the activists concluded the workshop, twenty men from nearby villages wielding machetes and other weapons confronted them on the dirt road leading out of Tongo. The men forced the activists out of their vehicles, warning them their cars would be burned if they failed to comply, then ripped rolls of film out of...

  13. CHAPTER 6 “We Should Be Like Starbucks”: The Social Assessment
    (pp. 183-214)

    “I’ve got better things to do this week than babysit the bean counters,” Ivan announced sourly, his voice filled with disgust. It was a sunny morning in late July 2004, and we were waiting for the team of auditors to arrive to conduct the annual Five Star Integrated Assessment that would examine mine performance across the three ameliorative disciplines discussed in chapter 1: Safety and Health, Environment, and the CSR-linked Community and External Relations.¹ As an amphibious Cessna plane owned by the mine and filled with the auditors splashed down in the sparkling waters of Benete Bay, mine managers were...

  14. Conclusion: “Soft Is Hard”
    (pp. 215-218)

    In chapter 1, I recounted how engineers at Newmont’s headquarters had asked the land manager to promise to expedite a small land purchase for a construction camp in Ghana, only to be refused. Observing that one hasty land deal could imperil the whole lot, the manager warned the engineers: “Soft issues are hard issues.” Newmont’s CSR experts often used variations of this “soft is hard” formulation in everyday discourse, and it featured prominently in a PowerPoint presentation that the Denver CSR executives put together to train colleagues in “community outrage” management.

    Softandhardinvoke a welter of meanings, prominent...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 219-248)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 249-280)
  17. Index
    (pp. 281-289)