Resisting coal: Hydrocarbon politics and assemblages of protest in the UK and Indonesia

Benjamin Brown, Samuel J. Spiegel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the social and material politics of coal, focusing on mobilizations against opencast mining in the United Kingdom and Indonesia. Contested spaces and practices elicited by coal extraction provide important openings through which to understand how ‘hydrocarbon modernity’ is experienced and entangled with different processes of neoliberal capitalism. We investigate resistance against coal at Ffos-y-Fran in South Wales and the IndoMet project in the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan, exploring how assemblages of protest have challenged the material effects, discursive practices and regimes of accumulation attendant within the coal industry. In both countries, campaigns seeking to ‘end coal’ have built dynamic geographical alliances, and as collective challenges to mining activities have unfolded, we consider how movements targeting specific sites of extraction have sought to disrupt the industry’s 'dis-embedding' of coal from the landscape. Drawing on accounts of how hydrocarbon politics shape societies, the approach we present draws attention to changing linkages between economic, environmental and social advocacy while illuminating the varied ways in which coal mining can compound and perpetuate inequality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-111
Number of pages11
Early online date18 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • coal
  • protest
  • social movements
  • assemblage
  • United Kingdom
  • Indonesia


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