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African artisanal and small-scale mining labour: comparative perspectives 
Melusi Nkomo (Princeton University)
Muriel Côte (Lund University)
Timothy Raeymaekers (University of Bologna)
Joseph Mujere (University of York)
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Joseph Mujere (University of York)
Muriel Côte (Lund University)
Melusi Nkomo (Princeton University)
Environment and Geography (x) Inequality (y)
Philosophikum, S57
Friday 2 June, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

This panel invites submissions on artisanal and small-scale mining labour in Africa. Taking mining labour as a political process, the panel aims to highlight its significance in the socio-spatial processes of class formation and differentiation in contemporary African society.

Long Abstract:

The panel focuses on artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) labour in Africa. ASM as an activity is however problematic – much of the literature has focused on the chemical pollution, land degradation, socioeconomic exploitation, tax evasion, which pervade ASM. These issues have often been analysed through the prism of the link between ASM and rural development; urban transformation; sustainable livelihoods. What is missing, or only marginal, is a focused discussion on ASM labour that may help us account for dynamics of class formation and differentiation (Bryceson and Geenen 2016; Verbrugge and Besmanos 2016). This lens is useful in overcoming for example the problematic dichotomies in the analysis of African extractive economies, between large-scale mining and ASM (which are often wrongfully perceived as separate forms of, ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ capitalist development) (Luning 2014; Côte and Korf 2018). It may also shed light on the active making, remaking, and unmaking of ASM labour in Africa, as it plays out in kin, household and community relations, in beliefs, social organizations, work relationships, and the many other arenas of life that straddle, rather than oppose, economic domains (Mezzadri 2019; 2021).

As we are using it, labour involves multiple engagements with capital and state as well as relationships with other forms of socio-economic activity that play out locally, regionally, and globally (Kasmir and Carbonella 2014, 7). What power-laden relations and interactions are involved in the making of extractive ASM labour in Africa, and how do these help us understand how ASM labour is valued, in capitalistic terms and otherwise? How do these processes play out on the ground, in mining sites, but also in further away sites of ASM labour governance and formalisation, as well as along mineral supply chain relations? How are the processes of labour reproduction, subsumption, and exploitation embedded socially, politically, and spatially? How do various uncertainties in ASM affect labour and socio-spatial relations? How do the multiple social relations, networks, and processes that facilitate ASM extractive labour impact upon the transformation of social spaces (e.g. the village, the town, the home)? How are the boundaries between extractive labour, capital, and resources reproduced and negotiated?

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Friday 2 June, 2023, -