Paper short abstract:
The presentation provides an ethnographic account on the emergence of small-scale gold mining amongst Ngaju Dayak villagers in Indonesian Borneo. It is argued that although mining allows people to experience ‘states of prosperity’, it remains a transitory moment of local livelihoods.
Paper long abstract:
The proposed presentation provides an ethnographic account on the emergence of small-scale gold mining as a collective, but transitional practice amongst Ngaju Dayak rattan farmers in Indonesian Borneo in their search for prosperity. Artisanal gold panning has a long history in the area. Yet, recent years have witnessed a dramatic expansion in small-scale gold mining activities, rendering parts of the district as 'hotspots' of mercury contamination in Indonesia. Rather than focusing on tools, materials and working routine, the presentation explores the various factors (such as ecological conditions, government raids, religious-magical beliefs and ritual conduct) that add to making small-scale gold mining a rather precarious endeavor. It is argued that even though mining allows people to experience temporarily 'states of prosperity', small-scale gold mining remains a transitory phenomenon of people's livelihood activities. Examining these 'golden' moments thus not only provides a case for revealing people's hopes for a better present that is yet to come in the future. But, as such, it contributes to understand the circumstances that lead to the (dis)appearence of gold mining practices in situ, despite the (un)known effects of mining on humans and their environment.
Mining technology: practices, knowledge and materials across and beyond the mines