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Social Movements at the Fossil Fuel Frontier in South Africa

Finkeldey, Jasper (2019) Social Movements at the Fossil Fuel Frontier in South Africa. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Despite repeated commitments to de-carbonise the world economy, global emissions from fossil fuels have never been higher than today. Looking at South Africa, the continent’s biggest fossil fuel emitter, I analyse social struggles over new fossil fuel projects. South Africa’s government shows a determination to fast-track fossil fuel developments throughout the country in an effort to grow the economy and create jobs. Fossil fuel extraction in South Africa has reached a new accelerated phase in which the fossil fuel frontier is moving out of historical “sacrifice zones” and into non-traditional spaces such as conservation parks and middle-class neighbourhoods. KwaZulu-Natal province has a light fossil fuel mining footprint, but currently large-scale exploration applications for hydraulic fracturing and coal are under way, making it an ideal place to undertake research on the contested expansion of fossil fuel projects. Using a Gramsci-informed framework, I show how struggles over new fossil fuel projects are both material and ideological. I look specifically at the Save our iMfolozi Wilderness Campaign against coal mining and Frack Free South Africa’s challenge to the oil and gas industry, showing how their movement action sets limits to frontier expansion. In some places, these social movements create a political frontier, challenging new developments for fossil fuels, while in other places, mining corporations, state actors and civil society work closely together. This study also shows that antagonistic challenges to new fossil fuel projects depend crucially on the leadership role of NGOs.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fossil fuel extraction, Social Movements, Hegemony, South Africa
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School > Centre for Work, Organisation and Society
Depositing User: Jasper Finkeldey
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2019 09:20
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2019 10:05

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