Incommensurability and corporate social technologies: a critique of corporate compensations in Colombia’s coal mining region of La Guajira

Jaqueline Gilbert, Tamra Gilbertson, Line Jespersgaard Jakobsen

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Extractive industries increasingly use compensation measures to silence opposition, divide communities and stop resistance. Cerrejón, Colombia’s largest transnational coal mining corporation, has a long history of damaging Indigenous Wayúu, Afro-Colombian and local communities’ health and livelihoods. In the northeastern Colombian region of La Guajira, local communities struggle against the social and environmental impacts of coal mining. This article, based on field research conducted between 2018-2019, concludes that corporate and state-backed consultation and compensation projects are incommensurable with the damage caused by the coal mining operations and are implemented as a corporate social technology that undermines community cohesion and reinforces a power imbalance, perpetuating and enabling the expansion of damaging coal mining practices in Colombia.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Political Ecology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)434-452
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Colombia
  • Colombie
  • Compensation
  • Indigenous Wayúu
  • charbonnage transnational
  • compensación
  • compensation
  • consulta previa
  • consultation préalable
  • corporate social technologies
  • incommensurability
  • incommensurabilité
  • inconmensurabilidad
  • indigène Wayúu
  • indígenas Wayúu
  • minería de carbón trasnacional
  • prior consultation
  • technologies sociales d’entreprise
  • tecnología social corporativa
  • transnational coal mining

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