Gold mining in Orlovka
Gold mining in Orlovka

How does a gold mine become an exemplary case of ‘cooperation’? THESys researchers Beril Ocaklı and Tobias Krüger, together with co-authors Marco Janssen and Ulan Kasymov, pursue this question in their new article published in Ecological Economics.

Taking the discourse seriously: Rational self-interest and resistance to mining in Kyrgyzstan

Focusing on Kyrgyzstan’s third largest gold deposit – ‘Taldy-Bulak Levoberezhny’ – near the town of Orlovka, Ocaklı et al. engage critically with discourses and practices that advance extractive frontiers under neoliberal resource governance. Based on behavioural experiments, surveys, and in-depth inquiry, the authors follow and unpack the discourses praising Orlovka as a paragon of company-community ‘cooperation’ since agreeing to the mine in 2012. The authors progressively contextualise this narrative within the broader repertoire of polarising state and corporate strategies that play incommensurable community values and visions off against each other as ‘cooperative’ vs. ‘self-interested’ dispositions. Beneath the image of a former Soviet mining town that embraced the return of mining under capitalist regime, they find an Orlovka that has never stopped resisting the illiberal face of neoliberal governance since 2012. The study attests to the subtle and contradictory nature of the delegitimisation portfolio employed by state and corporate actors that are under increasing pressure to engineer consent for legitimising their extractive agendas.


Ocaklı, Beril, Tobias Krueger, Marco A. Janssen, and Ulan Kasymov. 2021. “Taking the discourse seriously: Rational self-interest and resistance to mining in Kyrgyzstan.”  Ecological Economics 189:107177. doi:

You can access the full paper here