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Gefährliches Gold und bitteres Geld. Zum Umgang mit einer außergewöhnlichen Ressource in Burkina Faso


  • Katja Werthmann


Non-industrial gold mining is a recent phenomenon in Burkina Faso that has gradually spread from the northern to the southern and western parts of the country since the mid-1980s. Gold mining is dangerous in two senses: on the one hand there are the physical risks of mine accidents, land slides, and violence in the mining camps. On the other hand, in many societies gold itself is believed to be dangerous. Both by the local people in the south-west of Burkina Faso and by immigrating gold diggers, gold is not merely seen as a material substance but as a supernatural entity. According to popular conceptions, gold is a living being that belongs to the realm of the earth deity and to the bush spirits. It appears and disappears spontaneously and is both attracted and "killed" by blood. These dangerous properties "contaminate" money obtained from the sale of gold, which is therefore excluded from certain uses.

Suggested Citation

  • Katja Werthmann, 2001. "Gefährliches Gold und bitteres Geld. Zum Umgang mit einer außergewöhnlichen Ressource in Burkina Faso," Africa Spectrum, Institute of African Affairs, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 36(3), pages 363-381.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:afjour:v:36:y:2001:i:3:p:363-381

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    Cited by:

    1. Grtz, Tilo, 2009. "Moralities, risk and rules in West African artisanal gold mining communities: A case study of Northern Benin," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-2), pages 12-17.

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