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Contested calculability: Social struggle and ontological mutations in two large scale golf developments

Publiceringsår: 2012
Språk: Engelska
Dokumenttyp: Konferensbidrag


In this paper I draw on two case studies of how environmental impacts are assessed in large scale golf developments to illustrate the political ecology of leisure and how countrysides are reshaped to cater for elite consumption (McCarthy 2008).

In 2008 Trump International Golf Links Scotland gained permission to build a golf resort, potentially the largest in the UK, along the Aberdeenshire coast. This resort was partly built on sand dunes given environmental protection as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and an intense conflict has been going on regarding the development's impact on these. Two years earlier Bro Hof Slott, a prestigious high-end golf course outside Stockholm, Sweden, opened. This was the first course in 20 years to be allowed to override beach protection laws, building immediately by the lakeside. To compensate for this the developers were to establish a wetlands nature reserve as part of the development. The local municipality has however been dissatisfied with how this has been handled, thus repeatedly suing the developer. Both cases reveal the willingness among politicians to attract large investments as well as the problems that follow when sensitive land is developed.

I utilise these cases to argue that Environmental Impact Assessments perform ontological mutations (Callon 2007) which make the environment calculable, legible, and therefore developable. But just as importantly these assessments frame social struggle. As environmentalists engage with a body of knowledge established through environmental impact assessments social struggle risks becoming a form of layman-expertise rather than proper politics.


  • Human Geography


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