School of Global Studies

Mining, Livelihoods and Social Networks in Bangladesh

Katy Gardner and Zahir Ahmed

Mining is a huge political and economic issue in Bangladesh. Whilst the country faces acute energy shortages and is in dire need of foreign and domestic revenue, the extraction of its natural resources  lead to large scale loss of land and livelihoods for those in the affected regions. Crucially, the companies contracted to carry out the mining are foreign. Anti-mining activism thus centres on the profits made by transnational mining corporations at the expense of national interests.

Mining livelihoodsThis project focuses on the Bibyana Gas Field, currently operated by Chevron, and investigates the impact of the gas plant on local livelihoods and social networks, some of which stretch to the U.K, where many villagers have settled. The project also focuses on the programmes of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) carried out in the area by Chevron.

A major focus of the research, which builds upon Katy Gardner’s previous work on transnational migration in the area, has been on the centrality of different forms of capital and connection to peoples’ lives and well being.  This includes connections to the U.K, connections to land and other forms of capital asset, or connections to Chevron.  

A central finding of the research is that whilst ‘giving’ and ‘help’ are key to transnational and local practices of patronage, providing vital safety nets for the poor and involving specific ideologies of social duty, charity and long-term social connectedness, the moralities of ‘partnership’ and ‘sustainability’ that underlie CSR are quite different. Meanwhile national level activism against Chevron and other transnational corporations seeking to mine coal and gas in the country evokes quite different moralities, involving nationalism and anti-imperialism.

Funded by the ESRC / Dfid’s Joint Scheme (Third Call), the project took place in collaboration with Jahangirnagar University in Bangladesh, and the NGO, Friends in Village Development, Bangladesh.


Project photographs


Gardner, K. (forthcoming) Capital Connections: Mining and Morality in Bangladesh, Pluto Press, working title, forthcoming, 2011.