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Making Concessions: Extractive Enclaves, Entangled Capitalism and Regulative Pluralism at the Gold Mining Frontier in Burkina Faso


  • Côte, Muriel
  • Korf, Benedikt


This paper studies the regulation of concessions in the global gold mining rush. The liberalization of the gold mining sector has given way to complex forms of regulation where non-state and illegal mining entrepreneurs compete in governing mining extraction. Taking the case of gold mining in Burkina Faso, this paper analyses the conditions and dynamics under which such complex regulation takes place. We draw on extensive ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Northern Burkina Faso, in particular the Burkinabè mining sector. We argue that enclave economies in the gold mining sector are co-produced by state and market regulation through a “plurification” of regulatory authority. This “plurification” is the effect of competition amongdifferent frontier entrepreneurs, who seek to broker regulatory authority in mining concession sites. We show that concession sites are not discrete extractive enclaves, but are better understood as indiscrete sites that are entangled in local politics and social relations. Rather than thinning social relations, as is often claimed, we observe that enclave economies thicken politics around concessionary regimes, where governmental bodies re-emerge as an arbitrating regulatory force. These findings problematize policy prescriptions to formalize the gold mining sector and draw attention to the role of the state in re/producing frontier entrepreneurs with unequal political rights to claiming concessions.

Suggested Citation

  • Côte, Muriel & Korf, Benedikt, 2018. "Making Concessions: Extractive Enclaves, Entangled Capitalism and Regulative Pluralism at the Gold Mining Frontier in Burkina Faso," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 466-476.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:101:y:2018:i:c:p:466-476
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2016.11.002

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    Burkina Faso; gold; concessions; frontier; enclaves;


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