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Fatal Transactions: Conflict Diamonds and the (Anti)Terrorist Consumer

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This paper brings recent research on the geographies of commodities and the politics of ethical consumption to bear on contemporary spaces of violence. Focusing on the discourse of “terror”, it discusses the tactics and ambivalences of a human rights advocacy campaign seeking to stop the financing of belligerents by the diamond trade. I argue that the campaign successfully reconnected “violent” spaces of exploitation and “peaceful” spaces of consumption and achieved significant trade reforms in the diamond sector. Yet, with its inclusion of racialized images of Africa, its responsiveness to policy compromises and its overtaking by savvy marketing by Western mining companies, the campaign and its mediatization also had ambivalent outcomes: burnishing the “reputable” character of Western industrialized mining interests at the expense of their historical accountability, indiscriminately associating terror with poor young African men, and overlooking state violence.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8330.2006.00476.x

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada;, Email: lebillon@geog.ubc.ca

Publication date: September 1, 2006

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