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Department of Geography Political Geography

The anatomy of a gold-rush

Mine workers in Zimbabwe

In a new paper, titled, ‘The anatomy of a gold-rush: Politics, uncertainty and the organisation of artisanal mine work and labour in Zimbabwe’, Melusi Nkomo explores how artisanal mining gold rushes are taken as socio-political spaces.

He argues that ‘instead of domination and subordination, actors in a gold rush engage in constant socio-political negotiations and contestations that fashion new political subjects at the workplace.’ As such, ‘work and labour are seen as a creative but undefinable and unpredictable processes and practices that create social value.’ He traces these dynamics through fieldwork in

Here’s an abstract for the paper:

“Numerous studies concur that artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) has had a significant impact on Africa's livelihoods, environment, urbanisation, agriculture, and other aspects of life. Rarely acknowledged is its effect on the politics of work and labour, as well as on political actions and behaviours in general. In Zimbabwe, ASM is perhaps more connected with and has reshaped broader societal processes, human actions, and the greater political economy than in other southern African nations. This paper offers a dissection of a gold-mining rush, the common ASM occurrence and workplace in order to comprehend how the various actors in mining rush sites perceive “work” and concomitantly “labour” in contexts where the structures and strictures of production and control are informal, flexible, contingent, situational, indeterminate, and frequently evasive of state and institutional confines. How then are political subjects fashioned under such conditions? The study is based on five months of ethnographic field research conducted in the gold-rich Kwekwe District in Zimbabwe's Midlands province between 2021 and early 2022.”

To Cite: Nkomo, M. (2022). The anatomy of a gold-rush: Politics, uncertainty and the organisation of artisanal mine work and labour in Zimbabwe. The Extractive Industries and Society, 11, 101124.

External Links: Artisanal Gold Mining on ScienceDirect