As Chapter 1 argued, social science production on extractive industry has been dominated by debates over the ‘resource curse’. At one level these debates seem polarized. Some speak of ‘the well-documented “resource curse” ’ in which ample subsoil resources come associated with poor eco nomic performance and conflict (Collier and Hoeffler 2005: 625), while others argue that minerals and hydrocarbons should be seen as an ‘endowment’ (ICMM 2006) that should inspire ‘love’ rather than fear (Davis 1995). Yet read another way, these debates seem to show as much ana lyt ical convergence as they do polarization. Auty, an author closely associated with the idea of the resource curse, sees scope for mineral-led de velopment (1993, 2001, 2008), while another critic, Pegg, also ‘accepts the fact that mining is potentially a great source of wealth which could generate tre mend ous eco nomic bene fits for poor coun tries’ (2006: 377). Meanwhile among the proponents of extractive industry, the World Bank publishes mater ial suggesting ‘that coun tries with substantial incomes from mining performed less well than coun tries with less income from mining’ (Weber-Fahr 2002: 7),3 and Davis and Tilton seem to suggest that mining is not always desirable and so should not be promoted everywhere (Davis and Tilton 2002). This convergence suggests that ostens ibly opposed positions increasingly agree on the im port ance of institutional quality and con text in determining the effects of extractive industries on de velopment. In par ticu lar, whether extraction triggers the resource curse effect or instead fosters growth is deemed to depend on whether a fiscal social contract exists, on degrees of transparency in the governance of extraction and the rev enues that it generates, and on gen eral institutional competence (Humphreys et al. 2007; Weber-Fahr 2002: 14). However, as in much work on governance and institutions, what remains far less clear is how such ‘good’ institutions will emerge – above all in con texts that have his tor ically been characterized by exclusionary forms of growth and pol itics (see Chapter 2 by Orihuela and Thorp). While the multi lateral de velopment banks tend to approach institutional emergence as a prob lem of capa city building, technical assistance and training, his tor ical ex peri ence suggests that the consolidation of demo cratizing institutions is more likely to be a product of conflict than of either

technocratic design or corporate philanthropy (Bebbington and Burneo 2008; Boix 2008; Tilly 2004). It is in this intellectual con text that the current chapter ex plores the question of institutional emergence. The argument is inspired by the claim that institution building is a polit ical pro cess in which socio-environmental conflict can play a potentially constructive role. The chapter elaborates a hypo thesis about the potential relationships between conflict, institutions and the ‘good’ regulation of extractive industries. To de velop this hypo thesis I draw on an extractive industry conflict in the northern highlands of Peru in which I have been involved both aca demically and pub licly (Bebbington et al. 2007b). The conflict, which involves a mining pro ject initially known as Majaz though now referred to as the Río Blanco Project, has become iconic within and beyond Peru (and is also referred to in Arellano-Yanguas’s chapter). The chapter proceeds as follows. I first elaborate conceptual ideas that underlie the ana lysis and give some background in forma tion on the Río Blanco Project. I then present a chro no logy of the conflict that has surrounded the project, with a focus on the involvement of different actors from the state, market and civil soci ety. That chro no logy allows me to identi fy elements of institutional emergence at both local and national scales, and to suggest relationships between these institutional initiatives and patterns of conflict. On the basis of this chro nology, the final section adopts a more ana lyt ical slant, seeking patterns in the conflict and on that basis elaborating a more gen eral hypo thesis re gard ing the relationship between conflict and institutional change in the extractive industry sector.