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La Batea: Exploring Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in Colombia

February 26, 2019 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Artisanal and small-scale gold miners in Colombia (also variously known as “informal,” “illegal,” “criminal,” “traditional,” and “ancestral” miners) are often caught between large-scale, transnational mining companies and the state on the one hand and anti-mining activists on the other. Both sides tend to lump together and stigmatize these workers and the activities who represent them, depicting them as thugs, polluters, or simply anachronisms.

In this project by a non-fiction photographer and anthropologist, we seek to break apart this stigmatized category and explore the histories, practices, and struggles of a range of small-scale gold mining communities. We take a rounded approach that shows  gold’s contradictory effects – how it contributes to situations of violence, contamination, and exploitation, but also craftsmanship, anchored communities, and sustainability. In doing so, we aim to contribute to the global debate over the social, political, and environmental impacts of gold mining.

Dr. Elizabeth Ferry, Brandeis University
Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Anthropology

Dr. Ferry is a cultural anthropologist who has written on silver mining and patrimony in Guanajuato, Mexico; value and mineral specimens; small-scale gold mining in Colombia; resources and temporalities; and cooperatives. She has interests in value, materiality, mining, and finance, and has done significant fieldwork in Mexico, Colombia, and the United States.


February 26, 2019
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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Room Number
Boettcher Room
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Arthur Lakes Library
1410 Illinois St.
Golden, CO 80401 United States
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