Room 04: In-Depth Terrains

Wall: Uganda


Our research sites in Uganda are in Busia District (south-east) and Buhweju District (south-west). ASGM is mainly based on alluvial extraction, although there is some hard rock mining. Small but high-grade vein quartz mineralisation in Busia makes it attractive, while Buhweju excites less interest. Combining remote sensing, ethnography, and participatory development methods helps us to capture different perspectives on the in-depth terrain. From above, hilly Buhweju is characterised by rugged landscape. Zooming in exposes mining, agriculture, settlements, and wetlands. Mining the wetlands provokes environmental alarm, unsurprisingly, but agriculture drives wetland consumption. On the ground and underground, conducting research with miners, the materiality of mining and its risks are apparent, as is the labour of extraction. In Busia, the gendered nature of people’s tasks within the terrain comes into view. This is linked to different scales, from the vast movement of soil by men in excavators preparing in-depth operations, to women with basins picking up small tailings by hand.

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In-Depth Terrains
West Africa