Digging Women: Towards a New Agenda for Feminist Critiques of Mining


Lahiri-Dutt, Kuntala. 2012. “Digging Women: Towards a New Agenda for Feminist Critiques of Mining.” Gender, Place & Culture 19 (2): 193–212. doi:10.1080/0966369X.2011.572433.

Author: Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt


This article addresses how a contemporary feminist perspective can problematise the ancient human endeavour of mining, and indicates which direction research on the interface between extractive industries and gender could usefully take. Feminist research has confronted masculinist discourses of mining by questioning the naturalisation of men as industrial workers, and by illustrating the gender-selective impacts of capitalist mining projects. The article probes the sources of these masculinist discourses of mining and reinterprets these critiques. Most importantly, by highlighting the diverse range of extractive practices that reflect different stages of surplus accumulation, it encourages a rethinking of mining itself as an area of feminine work. Finally, it makes tentative suggestions as to how the field of women and mining might be examined and addressed by contemporary feminists. A postcapitalist feminist critique of mining would hinge upon revealing women's agency in mining and revisit the conventional definitions of mining as industrial work and begin to see the feminine livelihoods in mining.

Keywords: informal mining, gender, women, representations, mining technology, mining impacts

Topics: Economies, Extractive Industries, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Men, Masculinity/ies, Livelihoods, Political Economies

Year: 2012

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