The increasing scarcity and potential depletion of natural resources, as well as conflicts over their use, cause profound environmental and social changes. Questions about sustainability arise from concerns about the manageability of conflicting interests and impending resource shortages on a global scale. The anthropological lens helps to examine the processes of change from a holistic perspective, encompassing the explanations of actors in many different relations to the resources. How do people understand pollution, land grabbing, mining disasters and new policies governing their accesssss to the production, distribution and consumption of natural resources?

And how do beliefs about the nature of natural resources relate to attitudes, behavior and political choices? The anthropology of mining has produced rich ethnographic analyses of the importance of mineral resources such as gold for the livelihoods of indigenous and migrant miners, insights and beliefs regarding these resources and their natural environment in general, and notions of customary law and the legality of accesssss to minerals. It also illustrates how mineral extraction, although formally organized, is primarily informal – and both socially disruptive and environmentally destructive – on the margins of the global economic system.



My work on small-scale gold mining in Suriname was the starting point for a large comparative Amazon wide project funded by NWO/WOTRO (2011-2016) in the CoCooN program under the name GOMIAM. The full name of the project is Small-scale gold mining and social conflict in the Amazon: Comparing states, environments, local Read more...


Policies for sustainable resource use

I have also done policy-oriented consultancy work on middle and small-scale mining (gems, gold, aggregates) in Brazil, the routes of illegally mined gold in the Guianas, fair mined gold in Bolivia and environmental regulation for small-scale gold mining in Suriname. In 2016-18 I worked in Brazil as social expert in the Read more...


Gold Matters

The Gold Matters project (2019-2021) explores whether a transformative approach towards sustainability is possible in small-scale gold mining. In three regions in Africa and South America we research how gold mining actors engage with, understand, and transform their relationships to the natural, social, political, and economic worlds. Is societal transformation Read more...


Gold in crisis

The GOLDCRISIS research project takes gold as the lens to examine the nexus of social upheaval, environmental degradation and transnational crime in the borderlands of the northern Amazon (Venezuela and Suriname). The aim of the project is to explain how Amazonian gold dynamics drive contemporary global forms of social and Read more...