Miner´s town, miner´s luck: gold seekers, energy and value in Marmato, Colombia
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the ways in which the gold from a Colombian town that enters the global commodity chains is created by “traditional” gold miners in the relationship they establish between their personhood as moral-economic agents and a metal as an elusive and mysterious agent.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores the ways in which the gold from a Colombian town that enters the global commodity chains is created by “traditional” miners in the relationship they establish between their personhood as moral-economic agents and a metal as an elusive-mysterious agent. I depart from two ethnographic concepts, luck and energy, to understand how, before coming into existence and being sold, the gold hidden in the mountain emerges to whom it corresponds to find it. For the miners, gold is mysterious and lively, since it has the ability to hide itself from those who seek it with ambitious desires, which is considered bad energy. In contrast, gold reveals to those who seek it with good vibe, which is considered positive energy. Thus, luck emerges in relation to the miner as an energetic person, which defines the monetary value once he finds it. Turning to the concept of "distributed personhood" by Strathern, "intersubjective spacetime" by Munn and the reflections on morality by Graeber, this paper exposes the extraction of gold as a moral process in which the miners distribute their personhood through practice, creating their personal value as selves capable of attracting wealth and the value of gold in a monetary regime. In this way I define miners as material, economic and moral agents, drawing on the extractive practices in Latin America as sites of global value production.
Rearticulating labour: staying, moving, and mobilizing along global commodity chains