Accepted Paper:

Digging for a living in Liberia  


Anne Fitzgerald (National University of Ireland)

Paper short abstract:

to follow

Paper long abstract:

This poster represents the research I have been undertaking on the theme of youth and child labour in diamond mining in Liberia. I spent four weeks in Liberia talking to diamond miners, young and older, mine owners, government mining agents and local NGOs about child/youth labour, diamond mining as an economic activity. Child labour is condemned by the international community. Child labour is portrayed as an aberration, yet the incidence of child labour remains stubbornly high in sub-Saharan Africa. Susan Levine’s study of child labour in South Africa, throws light on this situation in that she concludes that both “pre and post apartheid, child labour both waged and unwaged-figures prominently in family survival strategies” (Levine, p48). Yet, so often, western notions of a correct and proper childhood dominate the debate among the international community on the issue of child labour. What impact does the child rights debate have on those young miners in Liberia?

While these young Liberian miners spend their youth in hard labour but for very little gain in the diamond mining industry, diamonds are a girls’ best friend in the developed world of the West and the rapidly developing worlds of Asia and the Middle East. What light can development thinkers throw on the increasing poverty and lack of development evident in Liberia and throughout West Africa? Development theorists, like Andre Gundar Frank, Raul Prebisch, Samir Amin and Immanuel Wallerstein postulate that the international capitalist trade system is configured in ways which enrich the wealthy developed countries. The diamond industry is a very good example of primary product extraction in the developing world, enriching the importers of the developed world.

Panel W121
Poster session