Accepted paper:

From Andes to Amazon: translocal ASM livelihoods and identity in gold mining settlements


Sally Faulkner (University of Sheffield)

Paper short abstract:

The varying temporality of translocal ASM livelihoods creates divergent livelihood trajectories and contradictory understandings of sustainability. This paper links these arguments with theories of identity and deviance to provide an understanding of active resistance in mining settlements.

Paper long abstract:

The vast majority of people working and living in mining settlements in Madre de Dios are migrants from the Andes. Yet, the population is not homogenous, neither between different mining settlements nor within them, and the livelihood trajectories they follow diverge and multiple tensions. Sustainability has different meanings to miners who have become rooted in mining towns compared to those that remain highly mobile, as both places and futures are imagined differently when a miner's livelihood continues to be translocal. This paper introduces a temporal dimension to the concept of translocal livelihoods to show how divergent notions of sustainability are manifested in tension within ASM communities.

These divergent livelihood trajectories and notions of sustainability must be understood within their context of informality and illegality, in which high-levels of violence and government intervention create broader problems for sustainability, far beyond notions of the environment and natural resource depletion. This paper uses concepts from the deviance literature to show how criminalisation and persecution continue to a collective mining identity, which is reflected not only in the actions of miners but also in the discourses of criminality that are utilised to justify actions, both in relation to other miners and the dominant society. By linking these arguments to the concept of translocal livelihoods, this paper reflects on a key source of tension within ASM communities. It is only by appreciating the heterogeneity of "sustainability" within mining sites that we can move towards a more inclusive debate on the future of ASM.

panel C07
Questioning the (un)sustainability of Artisanal and Small-scale Mining