Disciplining coal resistance : the dynamics of violence and power in disciplining the resistance against the Hambach coal mine in Germany
Abstract: With climate change being one of the biggest challenges our society is faced with, resistance against fossil fuel companies is on the rise. One such example is the resistance against the Hambach coal mine close to Cologne in Western Germany which is the world’s largest opencast lignite mine. It is the site of a long-standing conflict between the operating corporation RWE and residents being reset-tled, as well as forest defenders populating the adjacent Hambach Forest to stop the expansion of the mine and to protect the forest. These resisting groups are supported by the coalition ‘Ende Gelände’, which in 2018 blocked coal infrastructures in this mine using mass civil disobedience. In their work, they run into obstacles that serve to constrain, contain and discipline their resistance. This thesis investigates barriers and limitations to these resisting groups drawing on the concepts of disciplining dissent, violence as defined by Galtung, and a Foucauldian interpretation of power. Semi-structured interviews supported by observatory participation build the basis for the analysis. The thesis offers an insight into how violence and power operate as disciplining factors on various levels. It shows how direct, structural and cultural violence are strongly entangled, with cultural vio-lence justifying structural and direct violence. Direct violence is by most interviewees not perceived as a strong disciplining factor, rather as an opportunity to change the power relations at place. Power mostly operates within the structures of society. It is operationalized as structural violence which is mostly experienced as marginalization, fragmentation and surveillance based on an entanglement of RWE with the local government. The media is, in this context, playing a crucial role, constructing public discourses by drawing on cultural norms and values and using them to diminish the resistance. The study also shows that the resisting groups have developed strong countermeasures mainly by drawing on narratives of climate justice and global warming which is considered a by-product of the capitalist ideology. All in all, the research paints a picture of a dynamic arena of contention between resistors and corporate and state violence, in which adaptation to different forms of power character-ises the everyday work of coal mining resistors.
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