Seeing like a miner: The joys and menaces of informal gold extraction in Chocó, Colombia

by Jesse Jonkman ‘Let’s not fool ourselves, the Colombian state always tries to shut the door to the poor man in order to lead him to war.’ Manuel* spits out the words while he is contemplating the tranquil flow of the Bebará river that passes alongside his natal village La Villa. His criticism is directed at the government administration of President Santos and its eagerness to combat ‘illegal’ mining. ‘The state made up that mining is illegal. I understand that cocaine is illegal. It’s something that inflicts harm upon a lot of people. But a metal that comes from the …

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Vamos a la lucha!

By Lieke Prins         During the three months of my fieldwork in Medellín (the second-largest city in Colombia) I researched the political ideology of social science students and how this ideology manifested itself in practice. In order to understand their position and their actions, I lived with two Colombian students and participated in their day-to-day life. From the very first moment that I met the two girls, I noticed their passion concerning the construction of peace, their resistance movements against the politically right capitalist mindset, their fight for justice and their search for human security. Not only did …

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Colombia between hope and fear

By Lieke Prins        When I initially left my house in Amsterdam to live in Colombia for three months I had planned to go to Chocó and study Afro-Colombian small-scale gold miners and their resistance strategies against large-scale mining companies. However, the first night in my new house with my new roommates in Medellin made me rethink my initial plans and inspired me to change in course of my research. On the first night we were sitting on the floor of our apartment, getting to know each other. One of my roommates, an anthropology student of the Universidad de Antioquia, …

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