Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, History, New York University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2013
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Interdepartmental Program in Anthropology and History, University of Michigan
Granaries of Gold: Farm, Labor and Entrepreneurship on Senegal’s Mineral Frontier

The exhaustion of minerals in traditional mining sites has pushed the 21st century's scramble for resources to remote regions, such as Kedougou in southeastern Senegal. Considered an economic backwater by the colonial and postcolonial state, Kedougou is now a boomtown. Corporate mining firms prospect for gold, iron ore, and uranium alongside thousands of artisanal gold miners who migrate to the region from across West Africa. While this influx of global capital generates economic opportunities for Senegal’s poorest region, the mineral boom greatly inflates local food prices. Struggles to control labor and household granaries intensify as men and women increasingly abandon farming for entrepreneurial activities on the goldfields. This dissertation draws on ethnographic and historic research among farmers, miners, state agents and entrepreneurs to analyze how tensions to produce gold or grain impact competition over labor, natural resources and Kedougou’s economic future. With the state threatening to close artisanal mines unless residents ‘return to the fields’, I ask: How do mining activities influence the region’s foodways? What are the political implications of a mineral boom unfolding in a region long marginalized by state developmental strategies? By addressing these questions, this project probes the future of food and farm on West Africa's mining frontiers.