Gold Mining and Subsistence in the Chocó, Colombia
- PUBLISHED: June 2020
- SUBJECT LISTING: Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Latin American Studies
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 250 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 16 b&w illus., 2 charts, 2 maps
- SERIES: Culture, Place, and Nature
- ISBN: 9780295747521
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
People employ various methods to extract gold in the rainforests of the Chocó, in northwest Colombia: Rural Afro-Colombian artisanal miners work hillsides with hand tools or dredge mud from river bottoms. Migrant miners level the landscape with excavators, then trap gold with mercury. Canadian mining companies prospect for open-pit mega-mines. Drug traffickers launder cocaine profits by smuggling gold into Colombia and claiming it came from fictitious small-scale mines.
Through an ethnography of gold that examines the movement of people, commodities, and capital, Shifting Livelihoods investigates how resource extraction reshapes a place. In the Chocó, gold enables forms of “shift” (rebusque)—a metaphor for the fluid livelihood strategy adopted by forest dwellers and migrant gold miners alike as they seek informal work amid a drug war. Mining’s effects on rural people, corporations, and politics are on view in this fine-grained account of daily life in a regional economy dominated by gold and cocaine.
Authors & Contributors
Daniel Tubb is associate professor of anthropology at the University of New Brunswick Fredericton.
[O]ffers an engaging, complex account focused on issues concerning the production, accumulation, and transformation of value.- Choice
Tubb astutely examines the economics of artisal mining in the Choco area, adeptly shifting from the macro to the micro, the global to the local, whilst telling a captivating and compelling story.- Nokoko
[A] rich and detailed ethnography.- American Anthropologist
This is an exciting time for the anthropological study of mining, and Shifting Livelihoods makes a welcome contribution to the scholarship that is emerging.- Exertions
This ethnography is an eloquently written and concise read for multiple audiences interested in discussions about economic anthropology and the anthropology of mining... Shifting Livelihoods is a respectful walk alongside miners in Colombia’s Chocó region that manages to capture their humanity and dignity – something that journalists and politicians have failed heretofore to do.- Anthropologica
The book’s proposition of shifting livelihood strategies is especially convincing due to its writing style of ethnographic storytelling...The miners and their rainforest come to life in the book, one muddy page after another.- Bulletin of Latin American Research
An important, accessible, beautifully written book. . . . Tubb looks at the highly significant issue of extraction from multiple angles and places it in thinkable economic, social, and cultural contexts.- Marjo de Theije, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Through the prism of the miners, their families, and their communities, Tubb provides a nuanced, complex analysis of the concept of rebusque.- María Clemencia Ramírez, author of Between the Guerrillas and the State: The Cocalero Movement, Citizenship, and Identity in the Colombian Amazon