Skip to main content

No Ethnographic Playground: Mining Projects and Anthropological Politics. A Review Essay

  • Marina Welker (a1)

“Mining is no ethnographic playground,” Chris Ballard and Glenn Banks warned in their 2003 review of the anthropology of mining. The deep conflicts that characterize the industry find echoes in “a parallel war of sorts …waged within the discipline about the nature and scope of appropriate forms of engagement” (p. 289). This review essay examines how authors of recent ethnographic studies of large-scale, capital-intensive mining projects in Papua New Guinea, South Africa, and the United States have politically positioned themselves as researchers, and the insights into mining companies that derive from these situated perspectives.

Corresponding author
Hide All
Ballard Chris, and Banks Glenn. 2003. Resource Wars: The Anthropology of Mining. Annual Review of Anthropology 32: 287313.
Fortun Kim. 2001. Advocacy after Bhopal: Environmentalism, Disaster, New Global Orders. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Furnivall J. S. 1991. The Fashioning of Leviathan: The Beginnings of British Rule in Burma. Canberra: Department of Anthropology, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University.
Jacka Jerry K. 2015. Alchemy in the Rain Forest: Politics, Ecology, and Resilience in a New Guinea Mining Area. Durham: Duke University Press.
Kirsch Stuart. 2006. Reverse Anthropology: Indigenous Analysis of Social and Environmental Relations in New Guinea. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
LeCain Timothy J. 2009. Mass Destruction: The Men and Giant Mines that Wired America and Scarred the Planet. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
Li Fabiana. 2015. Unearthing Conflict: Corporate Mining, Activism, and Expertise in Peru. Durham: Duke University Press.
Rogers Douglas. 2012. The Materiality of the Corporation: Oil, Gas, and Corporate Social Technologies in the Remaking of a Russian Region. American Ethnologist 39, 2: 284–96.
Rogers Douglas. 2015. Oil and Anthropology. Annual Review of Anthropology 44: 365–80.
Tsing Anna Lowenhaupt. 2005. Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Welker Marina. 2014. Enacting the Corporation: An American Mining Firm in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 9
Total number of PDF views: 161 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 754 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th February 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.