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Digging Deep for Justice: A Radical Re-imagination of the Artisanal Gold Mining Sector in Ghana

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This article explores the concept of “contact zones” to counteract misrecognition and exclusion in the artisanal gold mining sector of Ghana. The large majority of the 300,000–500,000 Ghanaian artisanal miners work without an official license, illegally. Due to their encroachment on corporate concession lands, the use of toxic mercury in the gold extraction process, and the social disruption caused by their migratory activities, these miners are often marginalized and criminalized. Yet, devaluation and misrecognition hamper environmental stewardship and participation in political decision-making. Through parity-fostering participatory research, I propose a radical re-imagination of the sector that encourages agency and flourishing among these ostracized men and women diggers.

Keywords: Ghana; contact zones; participation; recognition; small-scale mining; social and environmental justice

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography and the Alliance for Earth Sciences, Engineering, and Development in Africa (AESEDA), Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA;, Email:

Publication date: September 1, 2009


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