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'Following The Hills': Gold Mining Camps As Heterotopias

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores patterns of cooperation and cohabitation in gold mining camps in Burkina Faso, motives for migration to mining camps, and the stigmatisation of the people living in those camps. The stigmatisation is based on a prejudice against sojourners of mining camps who are viewed as a socially and morally deviant population. The chapter argues that mining camps are in fact "heterotopias of deviation". These spaces also catalyse processes of urbanisation in non-urban places: they are characterised by size, density, and heterogeneity, and accommodate individuality, even anonymity. Since 1925, the French tried to maximise the exploitation of gold-bearing sites in their West African colonies by way of forced labour. Regardless of the kind of profession carried out in a mining camp, all the people who live there are considered 'gold diggers' (Mooré: sanm tuuda) or 'people of the hills' (tang ramba).

Keywords: Burkina Faso; gold mining camp; heterotopias of deviation; sojourner; West African colony



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