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Performing ‘blue degrowth’?: Critiquing seabed mining in Papua New Guinea through creative practice

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>9/12/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Sustainability Science
Number of pages13
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date9/12/19
Original languageEnglish


Scripted as a sustainable alternative to terrestrial mining, the world’s first commercial deep-sea mining (DSM) site is due to begin operating in Papua New Guinea in order to extract copper and gold from a deposit situated 1600m below the surface of the Bismark Sea. Whilst DSM’s proponents locate it as emergent part of a blue economy narrative, its critics point to the ecological and economic uncertainty that characterises the proposed practice. Yet, due its extreme geography, DSM is also profoundly elusive to direct human experience and thus presents a challenge to forms of resistance against an industry extolled as having ‘no human impact’. Against this background, this paper analyses the ways in which ‘blue degrowth’ - as a distinct form of counter-narrative - might be ‘performed’, and which imagined (and alternative) geographies are invoked accordingly. To do this it critically reflects upon two years of participatory research in the Duke of York Islands focusing on three, community-developed methods of resisting DSM. Practices of drawing, sculpture and participatory drama all sought to ‘perform’ the deep-ocean environment imagined as relational whilst simultaneously questioning the very notion of ‘economy’ central to the discourse of ‘blue growth’.