Mining mobility and settlement during an East African gold boom: seeking fortune and accommodating fate

Bryceson, D. F., Jønsson, J. B. and Shand, M. C. (2020) Mining mobility and settlement during an East African gold boom: seeking fortune and accommodating fate. Mobilities, 15(3), pp. 446-463. (doi: 10.1080/17450101.2020.1723879)

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Abstract

In light of Shiller’s concept of ‘irrational exuberance’, we interrogate migrants’ optimistic material expectations at artisanal and industrial gold mining locations during a period of exceptional mobility spurred by the international gold boom of 2000–2013. Our household survey and interview findings reveal miners’ and residents’ mobility and settlement patterns in three Tanzanian gold mining settlements, representing different stages and forms of mining along a trajectory of deepening gold extraction and increasing urbanization. Resident miners’, traders’ and service providers’ personal motivations, strategies and dilemmas surface. The constancy of migrants’ motivation for economic betterment and the contingency of their strategic thinking in the face of gold supply uncertainty emerges clearly. However, mining site residents’ highly mobile lives entail toleration of temporary, inadequate housing in infrastructurally deficient, polluted and unsafe mining environments, a situation at odds with their aims for lifestyle enhancement. Given the unpredictability of gold production, residents reconcile their expectations of striking it rich with the reality of sub-optimal outcomes. Those who gain satisfaction and esteem in their careers are likely to do so through high levels of mobility, ultimately rewarded with desirable housing and settlement locations, whereas others adapt to constrained mobility and unenviable settlement locations, or abandon mining.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The authors are grateful for the support of the University of Glasgow, the UK Department for International Development (DfID) and the Economic Research Council for funding (ESRC RES-167-25-0488).
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Jonsson, Dr Jesper Bosse and Shand, Mr Mike and Bryceson, Dr Deborah
Authors: Bryceson, D. F., Jønsson, J. B., and Shand, M. C.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Mobilities
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1745-0101
ISSN (Online):1745-011X
Published Online:12 March 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Mobilities 15(3): 446-463
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
164109Urban Growth and Poverty in Mining AfricaDeborah BrycesonEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/H033521/1GES - Human Geography