Making it work (or not): Gendered mobility and differential governance of artisanal gold mining in Sierra Leone and Mozambique

23 May 2017

As part of the Lunchtime Seminar Series, the African Centre for Migration & Society invites you to a seminar titled Making it work (or not): Gendered mobility and differential governance of artisanal gold mining in Sierra Leone and Mozambique presented by Professor Blair Rutherford (Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton University). Over the last fifteen years, there has been increasing scholarly and policy attention on what is now commonly known as “artisanal and small-scale mining” (ASM) in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly with a focus on issues concerning governance, regulation, and economic returns. Drawing on ethnographic research in Tonkolili district, Sierra Leone, and Manica district, Mozambique over the last two years, this talk will examine how these processes of “formalization” intersect with the gendered movement and incorporation of labour in artisanal gold mining sites. 

An examination of the varied pathways men and women enter into different types of work in these mining sites leads to an analysis of a gendered politics of belonging, which informs the economic returns different women and men are able to achieve. Professor Blair Rutherford suggests that one needs to attend to the very different configurations of the gendered modes of belonging in particular nonliberal institutions of governance to better understand the emplacement of (im)migrants in the two research sites. In so doing, one gains insight into the very uneven valuation of various forms of ASM labour while, at the same time, problematizing liberal imaginations informing formalization projects.


Blair Rutherford is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Institute of African Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. He has over twenty years of research experience on examining the cultural politics of land, labour and resources in Zimbabwe and South Africa and is currently involved with colleagues in Canada and Africa on a series of projects concerning artisanal and small scale mining and women in several sub-Saharan African countries. He is the author of Working on the Margins: Black Workers, White Farmers in Postcolonial Zimbabwe (2000, Zed Books/Weaver Press) and co-editor (with Doris Buss, Joanne Lebert, Donna Sharkey, and Obi Aginam) of Sexual Violence in Conflict and Post-Conflict Societies: International Agendas and African Contexts (2014, Routledge), and has published numerous articles in a range of academic journals and non-academic publications.

VenueHumanities Graduate Centre Seminar Room, South West Engineering Building, Wits University East Campus

Date: Tuesday 23 May

Time: 12.30-13.30