Mobility, temporary migration and changing livelihoods in Zimbabwe's artisanal mining sector

Grasian Mkodzongi*, Samuel J. Spiegel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This article examines mobility and trans-local livelihood practices linked to artisanal mining, exploring how movement in diverse socio-economic circumstances has profoundly shaped development dynamics in Zimbabwe. Following the fast-track land reforms in Zimbabwe, mobility across resettled large-scale (formerly white-owned) commercial farms created space for reshaping livelihoods across the country, and opened up mineral access to local populations. Beyond understanding mobility linked directly to land reform, we stress the need to appreciate diverse subsequent, interlinking and highly dynamic influences on mobility – as well as what mobility enables. We draw on ethnographic data gathered in three research sites in Mhondoro Ngezi district, in central Zimbabwe, analysing some of the changing socio-economic relations, exploitation concerns and opportunities linked to mobility and artisanal mining activities. As economic challenges have continued to multiply, the importance of artisanal mining – in many regions of the country – has intensified. Understanding mobility requires attention to both temporary and less temporary migration patterns and differentiated ways in which social networks and economic labour arrangements, including risks of mistreatment and new economic possibilities play out. We especially argue for more attention to varied forms of youth mobility and domestic migration around gold mining amid Zimbabwe's deep economic challenges.
Original languageEnglish
JournalExtractive Industries and Society
Early online date24 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 May 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • livelihoods
  • mobility
  • temporary labour migration
  • Zimbabwe


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