Across the Global South, corporations and governments are displacing Indigenous and Afro-descendant groups in the name of development and economic advancement. International norms guarantee these communities the right to consultation over extractive projects that impact their traditional territories. Ethnic rights laws create spaces for communities to hold corporations accountable for their suffering; the same laws can also allow corporations to co-opt the process. Using a case study from Colombia, I argue that two Black communities filed a petition to seek reparations for a wide range of harms caused by mining yet found themselves on trial over whether they were really a community at all. Corporate officials positioned themselves as the experts on community identity and history and used the communities’ lack of collectivity to discredit the communities’ ethnic rights claims. This article brings together anthropological literature on the social life of corporations and scholarly critiques of ethnic rights laws to illustrate that when communities engage ethnic rights laws, they also undergo new processes of community formation in their interactions with corporations, courts, and international institutions.
Banks, Emma. "Contentious Consultations: Black Communities, Corporate Experts, and the Constitutional Court in Colombia’s Coal Region." (2023) .