Illegal mining, identity, and the politics of ecocultural voice in Ghana

Authored by: Eric Karikari , José Castro-Sotomayor , Godfried Asante

Routledge Handbook of Ecocultural Identity

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  May  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138478411
eBook ISBN: 9781351068840
Adobe ISBN:


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In Chapter 15 of the Routledge Handbook of Ecocultural Identity, Karikari, Castro-Sotomayor, and Asante examine ecocultural identities implicated in galamsey – illegal mining – in Ghana. Through critical analysis of media texts and public comments in social media networks, the authors investigate how galamsey workers’ identities are constructed within the framework of ecological disasters. The authors’ analysis shows ways news media reports, Ghana government press releases, and public discussion of ecological disruptions construct galamsey workers’ identities through security discourses and the invisibility of resistant voices. The authors argue that media and public framing of galamsey workers’ ecocultural identities is situated within global environmental discourses that support Western notions of development, justify legal large-scale industrial mining, and criminalize illegal small-scale mining in the name of growth and national prosperity. Underlying the legitimization of legal extractive practices is Ghana’s contemporary ecocultural national imaginary, which stems from an ontological split between humans and the more-than-human world. Thus, the authors end this chapter by emphasizing Sankofa, an Akan Adinkra symbol (from the Asante ethnic group in Ghana) meaning to ‘return and take back,’ as an ontological shift that can rekindle Ghanaian Indigenous ecocultural identities centering intrinsic interconnection and mutuality between humans and the more-than-human world.

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