Katja Werthmann: Bitteres Gold – Bergbau, Land und Geld in Westafrika [PDF]


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MBA Mainzer Beiträge zur Afrikaforschung Volume 21

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260 pp.
4 maps, 22 b/w photos, 6 charts, 2 diagrams

Text language: German

Since the 1980s, West Africa experiences a gold boom. Men, women and children work in the informal mining sector, with their hands and simple tools only. Focusing on the case of the rural southwest of the country, the present book takes a closer look at economic, social and cultural aspects of the gold boom, giving peasants, prospectors, state officials and small-scale businesswomen a voice. The book also puts clichés of “lawless places” and “thoughtless splurging” into question.

The present volume further describes conflicts concerning the acquisition of land and natural resources as well as the social organization of mining towns. On the one hand, gold mining leads to conflicts concerning rights of use and individual agency, but on the other hand it provides economic change and alternative ways of living and world views. On the occasion of the gold boom, relations between men and their environment, cosmologies as well as relations between generations and sexes are re-defined. The excessive consumption in the mining towns is a form of redistribution which contributes to the social embedment of the mining itself.

This book presents a contribution to the socio-scientific and comparative research of gold fever-phenomena, to the ethnography and history of West Africa, the relation between land rights, local power structures and the state in Africa, as well as to the ethnology of money.

Under these links you will find publications by the author and further studies of West African countries, mainly on ethnicity and nation-building:

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