The Gender of the Gold: An Ethnographic and Historical Account of Women’s Involvement in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining in Mount Kaindi, Papua New Guinea


Moretti, Daniele. 2006. “The Gender of the Gold: An Ethnographic and Historical Account of Women’s Involvement in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining in Mount Kaindi, Papua New Guinea.” Oceania 76 (2): 133–49. doi:10.2307/40332019.

Author: Daniele Moretti


The Kaindi area of Papua New Guinea is home to a large community of Anga small-scale miners. While they constitute nearly half of the local population, women do not participate in mining to the same extent as the men. Drawing on ethnographic data this paper shows that this is not just due to personal choice but also to a series of limiting factors that include pollution beliefs, land tenure practices, the unequal control of household resources, and the gendered division of labour. Far from being simply intrinsic to Anga culture, these impediments also relate to the gendered history of the colonial goldfields and to contemporary national law and company practice in the extractive sector. Similarly, they are neither unambiguous nor resistant to change. Indeed, since the Anga first entered the mines their women have engaged in resource extraction in ever increasing numbers, both independently and alongside male relatives and partners. Through an analysis of this historical trend, my paper will show that historically conscious ethnography can help specify not only the main obstacles women face in entering artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), but also the conditions that lead to their strengthening or weakening through time, thus identifying factors to be stimulated or countered in policies and strategies for equitable development within the sector.

Topics: Development, Economies, Environment, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Land Tenure, Governance, Households, Livelihoods, Multi-National Corporations Regions: Oceania Countries: Papua New Guinea

Year: 2006

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