Anthropological engagements with mining: an interview with Robert Pijpers

Heterogeneity, methodological challenges, gender and the underground. These are some of central themes in this interview with Robert Pijpers about anthropological perspectives on (artisanal and small-scale) mining

On June 13 2022, Gold Matters researcher and co-editor of the book ‘The Anthropology of Resource Extraction’ (Routledge, 2022), Robert Pijpers was interviewed by Oliver Tappe, an anthropologists based at the Institute of Anthropology, Heidelberg University working on small-scale tin mining in Laos.

The interview took place in the context Tappe’s BA-level course ‘Anthropology of Mining’ (Heidelberg University) and draws on Pijpers’ ethnographic work in Sierra Leone and Ghana, as well as the work of other Gold Matters researchers. It addresses a number of topics, most notably the importance of anthropology to studying mining, the heterogeneity of (artisanal and small-scale) mining in West Africa, the variety of methodological challenges that arise (for example in terms of access and making visible what cannot always be seen from the surface1), as well as mining’s critical social articulations, including those connected to gender relations and working arrangements in the underground domain. 

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Credits: Pijpers, R.J. Anthropological engagements with mining. Interview conducted by Oliver Tappe. 13 June 2022.


[1] See Luning & Pijpers (in press), Drawing on Words and Images. Anthropology and Photography



Gold Matters: Sustainability Transformations in Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining: A Multi-Actor and Trans-Regional Perspective is a transdisciplinary research project which aims to consider whether and how a transformative approach towards sustainability can arise in Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM). For more information see



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