© Christophe Sawadogo

The Sustainability Challenge

An estimated 16 million people in low and lower-middle income countries are dependent on Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) as a form of livelihood. However, it is widely associated with negative environmental, social, labour and health impacts. This creates political and public opposition to gold mining as a viable source of income and employment. Not only are critical barriers generated to sustainability but also to how sustainability is envisioned.

Sustainability Transformations

Taking a transformative approach to sustainability is an opportunity to ask what futures are possible in ASGM, critically scrutinising the character of change and assumptions about what change is possible. Considering gold as vital matter, an emphasis on materiality within the in-depth geopolitics of gold mining gives a means to re-vision sustainable futures. A multi-actor approach is deployed, with comparative analysis across sites in South America and Sub-Saharan Africa.

 Co-Labouring Knowledge

Public communication, referred to under the rubric of Sustainability Conversations, will be based on co-labouring knowledge between academics, artists and mining actors to endeavour to incorporate voices all-too-often excluded from sustainability debates. Multimodal visual representations of gold materialities will form the basis of an international pop-up exhibition that will travel between East and West Africa, Europe and Brazil from 2020.