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'Diamond mining is a chain'. Luck, blessing, and gambling in Sierra Leone’s artisanal mines

D'Angelo, L. (2015) 'Diamond mining is a chain'. Luck, blessing, and gambling in Sierra Leone’s artisanal mines. Critical African Studies, 7 (3). pp. 243-261. ISSN 2040-7211

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/21681392.2015.1077467


Many mining and development experts consider artisanal diamond mining to be a form of gambling. In Sierra Leone’s mining areas, this comparison also recurs occasionally in miners’ discourses. However, the idea that mining is like gambling deserves critical scrutiny as it allows only a limited, stereotypical representation of this work. This article considers mining as a complex combination of material production and imaginaries oriented by a specific ethic. Central to the understanding of this ethic is a repertoire of religious metaphors that inform miners’ working and ritual practices. By drawing upon my ethnographic experience in Sierra Leone (2007-2011), I examine the vocabulary of contingency which the miners use to make sense of their successes and failures and guide their daily decision-making. Moreover, I show how this vocabulary mirrors the daily efforts of miners in (re)producing the social reality in and around diamond mines. What I mean to highlight is the ways in which diamond miners challenge dominant discourses depicting them as immoral, antisocial agents.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of International Development
ID Code:84328
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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