Tag: mining

Toxicity, Violence, and the Legacies of Mercury and Gold Mining in Colombia

Toxic substances are often portrayed as stubborn molecules that resist being restricted to the places where we would like to contain them in order to free ourselves from the environmental and health damage they cause us . Mercury —a heavy metal used for different products and industrial processes— illustrates how the effects of these substances are mediated not only by their “stubbornness” or physical-chemical persistence but also by histories of power, violence, and domination. (read more...)

Counting on Montane Birds: Biologists, Verticality, and Territorial Defense in Colombia

This piece is about the unforeseen and sometimes overlooked connection between (i) birds living in the forests of Colombia’s high tropical Andes, (ii) local biologists supporting an anti-mining coalition by conducting an alternative baseline study, and (iii) the undertheorized production of upward vertical territories. (read more...)

Extractivism en Papier: Chronotopes of Settler-Colonial Capitalism in Australia

What if the greatest legacy of uranium mining is not its localized radioactive toxicity, but the seemingly mundane set of bureaucratic practices it catalysed? In this post, I reflect on the late 1970s origins of Ranger Uranium Mine located on Mirarr country in remote northern Australia, as revealed in a secret institutional archive. In particular, I focus on the hidden practices that clotted during this timeframe, and how they have structured Indigenous-state extractive relations in Australia ever since. This apparently benign spatiotemporal assemblage of textual, material, and social practices, which I have suggested is a chronotope, is in some ways as insidious as the contamination typically associated with this uranium mine. (read more...)

Coal, Care, and Climate change: When Things Remember What People Forget

As the US moves toward greener energy futures, how we remember coal – or do not – has significant implications for how we create more just energy transitions. The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) eventually came out in support of President Biden’s massive infrastructure plan, likely because it extended a lifeline to mines that produced high quality metallurgical or “coking” coal used in steel manufacture even though it concretized the administration’s commitment to decreasing coal production for energy. As a case in point, the New Elk Mine in southern Colorado fired up again in June 2021, with plans to ship nearly three million tons of coal per year to overseas steel-making plants. The mine’s reopening was noteworthy, given the region’s attempts to create a more sustainable economy in the wake of a major coal bust half a century ago. (read more...)

Knowledge Production, Toxic Corporate Capital, and the Anthropologist’s Entangled Ethics

The dominant disciplinary literature on cultures and practices of extractivism relies on a separation of “the field,” and the insights gained there, from our professional lives as anthropologists in an academy culturally and socially situated in the “Global North.” Increasingly, such distinctions fail to hold as the consequences of extractivism and the conflicts that it produces arrive at the doorstep of the anthropologist’s place of work. I wrote this piece as I grappled with how to frame the effects of toxicity from gold mining in ways that fully accounted for its vast reach beyond “the field” and beyond the material forms (gaseous, liquid, sludgy, in blood levels, as illness symptoms) that I expected it to take. In grappling with the extensive nature of mining toxicity, events occurred to shift my attention to the transnational webs of capital, and the forms of life such toxicity generates. I began to ask: Beyond (read more...)