Marketta Vuola and Fergus Simpson
Discussion paper 2021.07


This article contributes to the literature on commodity frontiers by providing evidence from locales where two different frontiers overlap. We focus on intersecting commodity frontiers produced through biodiversity conservation and mineral extraction that increasingly compete for control over land and resources. We frame commodity frontiers as organised through the territorialisation of rural landscapes via different types of protected areas (strict, flexible) and various scales of mining activity (artisanal, semi-industrial, industrial). With reference to case studies from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and northern Madagascar, we disaggregate the processes of territorialisation both at and between conservation and mining frontiers. It is argued that flexible approaches to protected area management and artisanal and semi-industrial modes of mining can be viewed as territorial adaptations to enable frontiers to co-exist where strict conservation and large-scale mining would otherwise exclude one-another. We conclude that contexts where state power is limited, and the boundaries between legal and illegal become blurred, are likely to be especially conducive to the emergence of double frontiers.

Key words
Commodity frontiers, territorialisation, mining, conservation, Madagascar, DRCongo.