The intricacies of “being able to work undisturbed” - The organization of alluvial gold mining in Bolivia

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Abstract

This article on small-scale alluvial gold mining in Bolivia shows how cultural practices, social patterns, and institutions, policies and politics are connected to technologies, physical environments, infrastructure, and landscapes. It presents a detailed description of the techniques, material makeup, work organization, social organization, and the regional and national political setting of alluvial small-scale gold mining in northern Bolivia, and argues for an analytical approach that acknowledges the interlinking of sociocultural and physical dimensions. To do so, the article is built of scale-ascending sections: Starting with a detailed description of the micro-operations on the pontoons on which the work takes place, followed by a theoretical exploration of the idea of sociomaterial entanglements, the argument proceeds to address the relations between the “inhabitants” of the pontoons and the nearby village that is their home, the miners’ organization (a cooperative), and the more macro setting in which this cooperative developed. The titles of the sections therefore allude to increasingly large scales. The closing section merges the various scales and summarizes the argument.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1124-1138
Number of pages15
JournalSociety & Natural Resources
Volume29
Issue number9
Early online date5 Aug 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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