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Accepted Paper:

Platinum dreams  
Dinah Rajak (University of Sussex)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on ethnographic research on South Africa’s platinum belt, I explore practices of corporate-sponsored ‘empowerment through enterprise’ in the borderlands of South Africa’s platinum mines, as a vehicle through which multinationals promise to spread the boons of the nation’s mineral wealth.

Paper long abstract:

The celebration of private sector development has been reconfigured in recent years, shifting its focus from the concentrated might of transnational corporations to the mass appeal of inclusive markets, bottom of the pyramid (BoP) enterprise and micro-entrepreneurship. As the tantalizing mantra in the squatter camps of South Africa's platinum belt goes: 'In the new South Africa, everyone can be a businessman'. This celebration of grass-roots capitalism is certainly not new. What is new, is that here it is the goliaths of corporate capitalism that, we are told, will deliver on this promise to the David's of petty enterprise. As a proselytizing project that claims to spread market discipline as the source of social mobility it is here, that we hear the battle-cry of a capitalism that presents itself as liberator of the economically disenfranchised, promoting inclusive markets as the panacea to poverty. Drawing on ethnographic research on South Africa's platinum belt, this paper explores practices of corporate sponsored 'empowerment through enterprise' in the borderlands of South Africa's platinum mines. Here, the promotion of micro-entrepreneurship in the 'peri-mining communities', and the elusive dream of 'inclusive markets' have become a primary vehicle through which mining multinationals promise to spread the boons of the mining industry, and 'democratize' the market.

Panel P073
Indelible footprints and unstable futures: anthropology and resource politics
  Session 1