A ‘Cartography of Concern’: Place-Making Practices and Gender in the Artisanal Mining Sector in Africa


Huggins, Chris, Doris Buss, and Blair Rutherford. 2017. “A ‘Cartography of Concern’: Place-Making Practices and Gender in the Artisanal Mining Sector in Africa.” Geoforum 83 (July): 142–52. 

Authors: Chris Huggins, Doris Buss, Blair Rutherford


Sites of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) in sub-Saharan Africa are often places of contestation and dispossession, particularly because mining laws and policies have generally been crafted to foster large-scale mining. This paper builds on research mapping the multiple ways in which ASM is associated with various wrongs – criminality, illegality, immorality, destructiveness - to consider how various, complex gendered relations and place-making practices within mine sites are occluded as a result. We consider these erasures in the context of ASM formalization efforts linked to particular state visions. We note that while negative perceptions of ASM persist, governments, donors and mining companies are increasingly engaging in different forms of negotiation with ASM representatives, particularly through establishing legal ‘ASM zones’ and encouraging or mandating artisanal miners to form associations or cooperatives: processes of formalization. With reference to African case studies, we outline potential issues and challenges in efforts to formalize ASM, while offering insights into how the politics of place-making inform these initiatives. Focusing in particular on the gendering of both the dominant place-making of ASM by policy-makers and regulators and the actual emplaced practices of ASM activities in specific mining sites we highlight the multiple, at times competing and other times overlapping, visions of space at work in this widespread economic activity.

Topics: Economies, Extractive Industries, Feminisms, Gender, Gender Analysis Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya

Year: 2017

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