Viewing the mines from afar: comparing corporate and NGO morals on mines in West Africa
Sabine Luning (Leiden University)
Paper short abstract:
Investors and consumers need information on mining sites, either where 'their' gold is extracted, or where it is sourced. How are mining sites framed, and connections represented to far-flung audiences? Attention is given to issues of scale, and oscillations between embedding and dis-embedding.
Paper long abstract:
Mining areas in West Africa bring together vast fields of actors; professionals from mining companies, state officials, farmers, artisanal miners, traders, local authorities, community members etc. Information on what happens in these areas has to travel to different far-away audiences. Focusing on two cases, the paper compares processes of connecting mining areas to far-flung audiences. It wants to foreground the selection of specific images and idioms in practices of framing. The analysis shows how the moral underpinning of frames articulate with the production of exclusion and externalities. In the first case, the audience is made up of potential investors in mining companies in Burkina, in the second the targeted audiences are potential consumers of 'fair' gold jewelry. Both types of representation can be seen as attempts to portray the source of 'their' gold. Investors are informed about how gold is situated in 'their' concession, consumers are presented with images about the origin of 'their' future jewelry. For investors, the local setting will be framed in mere geological potential (e.g deposits), a space devoid of social life. NGO's, such as Solidaridad, tune in on the local social setting and particularly the hardships of artisanal miners. In the figurative choice 'between a rock and a hard place', companies focus on rock, NGO's on the hard place. The analysis scrutinizes how the portrayal of global connections to mining sites relates to issues of scale, and oscillations between embedding and dis-embedding.
Mining mobility: the movement of people and expertise in the context of extractive projects [Anthropology of Mining Network]