Mining conflicts in Kyrgyzstan: properties of coupled ecological-industrial transactions and their role in shaping institutions as shared beliefs


Public Lecture

Beril Ocaklı

Mining conflicts in Kyrgyzstan: properties of coupled ecological-industrial transactions and their role in shaping institutions as shared beliefs

17.01.2018, Tbilisi, 19:00 LIGAMUS (tbc)

Beril Ocaklıa,b  will present her recent paper derived from her doctoral research with the working title “Progressing beyond mining as evil: exploring conflict and cooperation in the face of competing claims on land-water systems and territorial transformations in Kyrgyzstan”.

a Doctoral Researcher                             

Transformations and Uncertainties of Land-Water Systems

IRI THESys | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

b Project Director

‘Mineral Resources of Development in Central Asia’

Federation of German Industry, Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations

Mining conflicts in Kyrgyzstan: properties of coupled ecological-industrial transactions and their role in shaping institutions as shared beliefs


With the increase of mining conflicts worldwide, the number of scholars studying trade-offs in mining have also risen. However, integrative, social-ecological systems approaches are scarce. This study aims at contributing both theoretically and empirically to the emerging interdisciplinary literature by analysing mining conflicts in Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan is emblematic of a resource-cursed economy: despite gold mining accounting for nearly 50% of its exports, the country has failed to transform the mineral wealth into growth and sustainable development. The sector is characterised by upheavals, and conflicts that challenge the further development of the sector as well as disputing the very compatibility of mining and the sustainability of human-environment systems. In this paper, we study mining conflict dynamics from the perspective of institutional economics and empirically analyse the interdependence between properties of transactions and institutions. We introduce coupled ecological-industrial transactions as the unit of analysis for studying mining transactions, that is, transactions composed of both industrial and ecological processes. We offer a theoretical framework where properties of coupled ecological-industrial transactions and institutions as shared beliefs interact and provide incentives for conflict or cooperation. We test this theoretical proposition on a case study of shared beliefs of national actors in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Our results suggest that the properties of coupled ecological-industrial transactions and actor beliefs are mutually interdependent, whereby path-dependencies can shape the shared beliefs. Path-dependency is especially influential in contexts like Kyrgyzstan, where drastic governance change has taken place. These shared beliefs – institutions – can incentivise national actors to acknowledge the existence of and the drivers for preventing/mitigating conflicts. Likewise, they can motivate the perpetuation of conflict as it might seem costlier to promote cooperation than conflict if cooperation entails long-term institutional change. For conflict prevention, the complexity of multi-scalar ecological-industrial transactions requires institutions that are responsive to the properties of these transactions. Such institutions, when well-defined and enforced, are indispensable for governing the properties of mining transactions, with the potential to decrease conflict.

Keywords: institutional analysis, social-ecological systems, nature-related transactions, cooperation, path-dependency, Bishkek.

Short bio

Beril Ocaklı is a transdisciplinary professional and a doctoral researcher. She started her doctoral research in June 2015 at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems (IRI THESys). Alongside her doctoral research, she continues working for the Federation of German Industry, where she is implementing a regional project commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in the Central Asian mining sector.

Beril looks back on more than 10 years of professional experience in international development cooperation, where she managed numerous development projects in the field of private sector development in Germany, East Europe and Central Asia. Beril obtained her master’s degree in Development Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2007. Prior to that she completed her undergraduate studies at the Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary.

Her scientific work focuses on understanding the underlying factors behind conflicting or cooperative behaviours local communities have towards mining projects in Kyrgyzstan for which studying the human-environment-system transformations caused by resource extraction is a milestone.



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