Shifting Livelihoods: Gold Mining and Subsistence in the Chocó, Colombia

When and Where

Tuesday, November 30, 2021 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm
Online, Zoom


Daniel Tubb, Luis van Isschot, Kirsten Francescone, Donald Kingsbury


Join us for a conversation on mining's effect on rural people, corporations and politics as we celebrate the book launch of Shifting Livelihoods: Gold Mining and Subsistence in the Chocó, Colombia, by Daniel Tubb and published by the University of Washinton Press, 2020.

People employ various methods to extract gold in the rainforests of the Chocó, in northwest Colombia: Rural Afro-Colombian artisanal miners work hillsides with hand tools or dredge mud from river bottoms. Migrant miners level the landscape with excavators, then trap gold with mercury. Canadian mining companies prospect for open-pit mega-mines. Drug traffickers launder cocaine profits by smuggling gold into Colombia and claiming it came from fictitious small-scale mines.

Through an ethnography of gold that examines the movement of people, commodities, and capital, "Shifting Livelihoods" investigates how resource extraction reshapes a place. In the Chocó, gold enables forms of “shift” (rebusque)—a metaphor for the fluid livelihood strategy adopted by forest dwellers and migrant gold miners alike as they seek informal work amid a drug war. Mining’s effects on rural people, corporations, and politics are on view in this fine-grained account of daily life in a regional economy dominated by gold and cocaine.


  • Daniel Tubb (author) - Associate professor of Anthropology at the University of New Brunswick Fredericton. His research interests focus onn Colombia, on the impacts of resource projects in their early buzz phase, and on rural issues and smart-climate forestry in New Brunswick.
  • Luis van Isschot (discussant) - Associate professor of modern Latin American History at the University of Toronto. His scholarship specializes in the study of social movements, political violence, and human rights. His most recent research project concerns Latin American participation in global anti-colonial networks in the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Kirsten Francescone (discussant) - Latin America Program Coordinator at Mining Watch Canada. She accompanies communities and organizations facing Canadian mining companies. She is also a PhD Candidate in Anthropology and Political Economy at Carleton University. Her current research seeks to understand the links between labour and livelihood making and the anthropocene at small scale and industrial mining sites in Potosi, Bolivia. 
  • Donald Kingsbury (moderator) - Assistant professor of Latin American Politics at the University of Toronto. His current research examines the politics of lithium mining and energy transitions in the Americas.

Contact Information


Department of Spanish & Portuguese, Latin American Studies program, Canadian Association for Latin American and Caribbean Studies