Extractive socionatures and resistance.

The un/making of Kyrgyzstan’s gold rush

PhD Project

At any given moment in time, a community somewhere in the world is fighting for its right to existence, right to place, right to sovereignty over own life projects. The way we consume, organise our societies and imagine our futures continue to thrust extractivist agendas into more places and lives. Extractivism – the ideological paradigm that underpins this intensive remaking of nature into export commodities – as a mechanism of neo/colonialisms is certainly not new. However, we witness its acceleration under neoliberal governance over the last decades. As resource frontiers advance deeper and farther, mounting resistance from affected people expresses discontent and frustration with different manifestations of global socionatural order that facilitates extraction of nature, resources, meanings, lives.

This project traces and unpacks entanglements of multi-scalar valuations, discourses, practices behind making and unmaking of Kyrgyzstan into a resource frontier. Following a multi-method interdisciplinary research design combining in-depth ethnographic inquiry, behavioural experiments and surveys, I work towards an historico-geographical account of processes that have been and continue to rush and resist Kyrgyzstan’s gold expansion. Situated at the intersection of critical institutional economics, geography and anthropology, I mobilise a relational sociomaterial perspective that draws on interlinked registers of resource materialities, their valuations and governance for making sense of these processes.

Different stages of the underlying research have been financed by the THESys Graduate Programme, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and Elsa-Neumann Early Career Scientist Fellowship of the Federal State of Berlin.


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: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2021.107177 (preprint available upon request)

Ocaklı, Beril, and Jörg Niewöhner. under review. ” Making and unmaking gold as a resource. Resistant socionatures in Maidan, Kyrgyzstan.” Geoforum

Ocaklı, Beril, Tobias Krueger, and Jörg Niewöhner. 2020. “Shades of Conflict in Kyrgyzstan: National Actor Perceptions and Behaviour in Mining.”  International Journal of the Commons 14 (1):191-207. doi: 10.5334/ijc.988.

Coppenrath, Florian, Lukas Dünser, Beril Ocaklı, Robin Roth und Julia Tappeiner. 2020. “Fünf Stans auf der Suche.” Südwind https://www.suedwind-magazin.at/fuenf-stans-auf-der-suche

Infrastructure & EnergyLandWater