Aug 14 2010

Samarendra Das in Iceland – Lectures and Presentations on the “Black Book” of the Aluminum Industry

The Indian author, filmmaker and activist, Samarendra Das, will be in Iceland from August 14th to 21st. This is the second time that he comes here in collaboration with the environmental movement Saving Iceland. The occasion this time is the recent publishing of his and Felix Padel’s book, Out of This Earth: East India Adivasis and the Aluminium Cartel, which is published by Orient Black Swan and could be refered to as the “black book” of the aluminium industry. Samarendra will have a talk and presentation on his book, in the Reykjavík Academia, Hringbraut 121, on Wednesday August 18th at 20:00. More talks will take place in other place around the country while Samarendra is here and will be advertised later.

For the last decade, Samarendra has been involved with the struggle of the Dongria Kondh tribe in Odisha, India, against the British mining enterprise Vedanta, which plans to mine bauxite for aluminium production on the tribes’ lands – the Niyamgiri hills. The struggle has gained strength lately and for example, many official parties have sold their shares in Vedanta on the grounds that the company does not live up to expected demands about respect to human rights and local communities. Samarendra’s part in this can not be undermined, but he has written hundreds of articles, published and edited books, and made documentaries about the struggle and related issues. The new book, Out of This Earth, can be called the “black book” of the aluminium industry, since it addresses all the dark sides of the industry. In a press release from the publisher, Orient Black Swan, this says e.g. about the book:

“Aluminium is a metal we take for granted in hundreds of artefacts. But what do we understand about its real costs? This book traces a hidden history, coming alive through hundreds of voices and stories, of how one country after another swallowed promises of prosperity, and plunged into a cycle of exploitation and unrepayable debt. What is the link between the massive meltdown of Iceland’s banks, and the promotion of dams and smelters? Between the mafia-style looting of Russia’s assets and the rise to power of a succession of aluminium barons? Why did the US set a limit during the 1950s-60s and start to outsource aluminium factories to other, poorer countries, such as Ghana, Guinea, Jamaica, India?”

In the book, Samarendra and Felix discuss how industries like the aluminium industry are driven by an international cartel that fuses mining companies, investment bankers, government deals, metals traders and arms manufacturers. Their input into the discourse here in Iceland comes at the most needed time, now the plan still seems to by to build more aluminium smelters and the discussion about the selling of geothermal energy company H.S. Orka to the Canadian Magma Energy – a company that has its roots in metal mining in South America – seems to be reaching its climax.

This is not the first time that Samarendra comes to Iceland. He was here in the summer of 2008, when Saving Iceland’s resistance camp took place in Hellisheiði, where Reykjavík Energy (O.R.) is enlarging its geothermal power plant. That summer Samarendra had a well attended talk in the Reykjavík Academia, along with Andri Snær Magnason, the author of the book and documentary, Dreamland. After the talk it seemed like all of a sudden a discussion about the global context of aluminium production appeared in Icelandic society. And finally the biggest Icelandic media talked about bauxite mining in context without aluminum production of this country.

This is the third time that Saving Iceland organizes visits and talks of foreign guests here in Iceland. In the summer of 2007, an international conference called The Global Consequences of Heavy Industry and Large Dams took place in Ölfus, South Iceland. There, people from five continents came together and shared their stories of the environmental and social impacts of energy and aluminium production.

Like said before Samarendra will have more talks while he is in the country, which will be advertised later. We encourage medias to come to the talk on Wednesday, in Reykjavík Academia, as well as interviewing Samarendra – about the book, aluminium industry and the struggle of India’s tribal people. Those who want to talk to him are asked to contact Saving Iceland through this email:


The whole press release about the book can be seen here: Out of This Earth: East India Adivasis and the Aluminium Cartel

Read a recent article by Miriam Rose, about the struggle of the Dongria Kondh tribe: The Suffering of the Humble.. and Our Complicity

Read two article by Samarendra Das and Felix Padel: Agya, What Do You Mean by Development? and Double Death – Aluminum’s Link with Genocide

2 Responses to “Samarendra Das in Iceland – Lectures and Presentations on the “Black Book” of the Aluminum Industry”

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