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Who owns the diamonds? The occult eco-nomy of diamond mining in Sierra Leone

D'Angelo, L. (2014) Who owns the diamonds? The occult eco-nomy of diamond mining in Sierra Leone. Africa. Journal of the International African Institute, 84 (2). pp. 269-293. ISSN 1750-0184

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1017/S0001972013000752


Much of the literature on Sierra Leonean diamonds focuses on the role that this mineral resource played in the recent civil conflict (1991–2002). However, the political-economic perspective that is common to these analyses has lost sight of the main actors in this social reality. What do miners think of diamonds? Like their Malagasy colleagues engaged in the search for sapphires, the Sierra Leonean diamond miners often maintain that they do not know what diamonds could possibly be used for. What is specific to the diamond mining areas in this West African country is that suspicions and fantasies about the uses of diamonds go hand in hand with the idea that these precious stones belong to invisible spiritual entities known locally as djinns or dεbul dεn. Although this article aims to analyse the occult imaginary of diamond miners, it takes a different stand from the occult economies approach. By combining a historical-imaginative perspective with a historical and ecological one, this article intends to highlight the indissoluble interweaving of material and imaginative processes of artisanal diamond production in the context of Sierra Leone's mines.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of International Development
ID Code:84329


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