When I was carrying out fieldwork in Guinea and Mali between 2010 and 2014, some ministry officials, with whom I discussed the topics of mining and migration, used the nineteenth century US gold rush as an analogy to explain why thousands of people choose to live in temporary settlements across West Africa. Indeed, these artisanal gold miners mainly rely on non- or semi-mechanical excavation methods to extract ore and predominantly use gravitational techniques to purify it, thereby supposedly placing their future in the hands of chance and the hope that their lives will be transformed once they strike gold.
Yet, although this is an appealing – and popular – analogy for artisanal mining in West Africa, the image of the “gold rush” has been demonstrated to be rather problematic when the actual mobility dynamics of artisanal gold miners are considered. Continue reading
Recently, Burkina Faso celebrated the second anniversary of its popular uprising on 30 and 31 October 2014 that put an end to the Compaoré regime after 27 years. Parliamentary and municipal elections were held in November 2015. The new government under President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré and Prime Minister Paul Kaba Thiéba faces a number of daunting challenges and expectations. One of the challenges is a reorganization of the mining sector. According to a report published in October 2016 by a parliamentary commission of inquiry on mining titles and the social responsibility of mines, the Burkinabè state suffered a profit loss of almost a billion US dollars between 2005 and 2015 due to corruption, mismanagement and speculation in the mining sector.
“REZEKI: Gold and Stone Mining in Aceh” was produced jointly by SEATIDE and the University of Milano-Bicocca. The 52-minute film is based on Giacomo Tabacco’s and Silvia Vignato’s research, respectively, on gold and stone mining and on marriage and labour in West Aceh (Indonesia). It is about seeking fortune and fast money in post-tsunami, post-conflict and resource-rich Aceh. It is a choral description of the relationship between a female-centred, matrifocal agricultural work and landscape (which includes men’s work too) and the obstentatiously male risky work of gold miners, up in the mountains, in the pits compounds where women are banned. It is, therefore, a film about young men desiring success and girls, and young women laughing about them. It is also a vision of landscapes of different resources.
Sakolabada is a new town which completely depends on gold mining. Officially, it doesn´t exist, it doesn´t show on any official administrative map. However, in this non-existent town, life never stops.
In this film from July 2016, Sidylamine Bagayoko (University of Bamako-ULSHB) explores some of the urgent dynamics associated with artisanal gold mining and (informal) settlements in Mali.
Resource Worlds explores the ways in which natural resources and their extraction shape and affect societies, global connections and individual lifeworlds.
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