Geographic Protest: The role of Counter-mapping in supporting campaigns against large-scale extractive projects in Colombia: The case of La Colosa.

Doug Specht


In a few short years, social movements in Cajamarca, Colombia, were able to convince a once divided community almost unanimously to reject the establishment of the world’s largest gold mine on their doorstep. This paper examinesthe role of contestatory cartography in achieving this remarkable result. It explores the range of mapping and counter-mapping tools used by movements in the region, showing how a combination of classic GIS and neogeographical tools have been used to counter the mining project from both a legal and social standpoint. The paper finds that hierarchies of control are still in place and were not eroded by participatory mapping activities, but suggests that counter-mapping and the involvement of the community in exploring their own landscape was crucial to the rejection of AngloGold Ashanti’s La Colosa project.

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