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Brazilian illegal gold miners resilience in French Guiana: The garimpo as an economic and social system

Author:

François-Michel Le Tourneau

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), FR
About François-Michel

François-Michel Le Tourneau is a senior research fellow at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). He has been awarded the Prix Napoléon Bonaparte-Wise by the French Geographical Society (2013), Prix Sophie Barluet by the French National Book Center (2019), and Prix Eugène Potron by the French Geographical Society (2020).

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Abstract

Artisanal small-scale gold mining, or garimpo in Portuguese, started in French Guiana in the 1990s. The French authorities have repressed it, but this has not led to the end of the activity. Based on extensive fieldwork, this paper aims to analyze the garimpo as an economic and social informal world built to be resilient to repression and to neutralize the high risks of clandestine exploitation. This system provides economic, social, and moral resources, all embodied in the garimpeiro identity, allowing a workforce made of thousands of individuals to act as a cohesive work organization.


Resumen: Resiliencia de los mineros de oro ilegales brasileños en la Guayana Francesa: El garimpo como sistema económico y social
La minería de oro artesanal a pequeña escala, o garimpo en portugués, comenzó en la Guayana Francesa en la década de 1990. Las autoridades francesas lo han reprimido, pero no ha supuesto el fin de la actividad. Basado en un extenso trabajo de campo, este artículo tiene como objetivo analizar al garimpo como un mundo económico y social informal construido para ser resistente a la represión y neutralizar los altos riesgos de la explotación clandestina. Este sistema proporciona recursos económicos, sociales y morales, todos encarnados en la identidad garimpeiro, permitiendo que una fuerza de trabajo compuesta por miles de indivi-duos actúe como una organización de trabajo cohesiva. 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.32992/erlacs.10767
How to Cite: Le Tourneau, F.-M. (2021). Brazilian illegal gold miners resilience in French Guiana: The garimpo as an economic and social system. European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, (112), 1–27. DOI: http://doi.org/10.32992/erlacs.10767
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Published on 14 Nov 2021.
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