Who Owns the Minerals? Repoliticizing Neoliberal Governance in Brazil and Chile

Jewellord T. Nem Singh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


In the debate about post-neoliberal governance in Latin America, a key aspect is how the election of Left governments opened up new discussions about the role of the state in the economy. While Brazil and Chile are difficult to classify as "post neoliberal" states, their particular engagement with the global economy offers new insights about the aspirations and difficulties of a new kind of democratic politics based on a renegotiation between states and markets. The article contributes by exploring how natural resources have been managed in post-dictatorial Brazil and Chile. While legacies of neoliberalism clearly go in the way of greater state control over resources, it is also the case that highly institutionalized models of resource management have been contested for their profound emphasis on growth over equity. Instead, labor unions in mining and petroleum sectors have sought to embed social justice in extractive strategies of growth by rebuilding a stronger role for the state, forging a new "social contract" between the state and labor movement, and opening discussions on resource ownership and economic development. Yet these are changes in the margins precisely because of the embeddedness of neoliberalism in state-society relations. This analysis of repoliticization in Brazil and Chile traces attempts at changing the notions of resource ownership and economic development within the broader context of political demobilization of labor, privatization of resources, and depoliticization of mining management through technification and exclusionary practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-256
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Developing Societies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


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