Making expertise and democracy: lessons from a mining disaster in the Philippines

Stream: Panel 26 - Environmental Politics: Ecological Democracy 
Date: Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm


The issue of expertise has been problematic in science and technology studies (STS) and environmental deliberative democracy. The constructivist stream of STS views the technical aspects of expertise as intertwined with social order (Jasanoff 2004). Deliberative democrats also acknowledge the social and political interests embedded in scientific and technical capacities (Baber and Bartlett 2005). However, governance has been turning towards a heavier reliance on scientific and technical knowledge. This means that experts have been more privileged in governance given their increasing epistemic and political authority. At the same time, the public has been growing wary of such authority (Fischer 2009). Deliberation could offer normative solutions by which governance is a productive engagement among experts, governments, citizens, civil society, and other political actors. A division of labour in governance among different political actors (Christiano 2012) viewed as discrete units may not be always effective. Some actors, especially civil society groups, may have to do boundary work that straddles between experts and citizen advocates. This paper will draw insights from the 1996 Marcopper mining disaster in the Philippines. In particular, I will focus on the role of non-government organisations in the environmental impact assessment for rehabilitation. As a normative case study, the Marcopper mining disaster is rife with material, social, cognitive, and normative conditions (Jasanoff 2004) that could offer insights for the role of expertise and the prospects for deliberative democracy.


Emerson Sanchez (Presenter), University of Canberra
Emerson is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance. He commenced his PhD at the Australian National University in 2014 and transferred to the University of Canberra in 2015. His PhD research on deliberative sites in the politics of mining in the Philippines is being supervised by Prof. John Dryzek and Dr. Nicole Curato. He completed his BA in Journalism at the University of the Philippines and his MA in International Public Policy at the University of Tsukuba.