The decade following the 2008 financial crisis, witnessed unprecedented expansion of foreign investment in “small-scale” mineral extraction. In Ghana, millions of local and foreign miners, particularly Chinese miners, became involved in gold mining. Despite women’s ubiquitous roles, mining spaces and gender roles have remained intact. Men and women occupy specific spaces and activities which shape extraction, livelihoods, and health implications. My research analyses have focused on differences in health vulnerabilities, mining spaces, and gender roles as they are shaped by notions of men and women’s abilities and roles and ontological understandings of biophysical entities and human reproductive materials. I draw from feminists and political ecologists’ methodologies and theoretical tools to call attention to why ontologies matter in gendered extractive practices. The study argues that gendered relations of power alone do not fully explain the complex socio-ecological relations mediating access to, use of, and control over mineral resources. Efforts to understand the complexities of gendered resource practices must attend to complicated understandings of bodies and objects of extraction.
Janet Adomako is currently a doctoral candidate at Rutgers University in the Department of Geography. Her research employs feminist methodologies and political ecology approaches to examine the global and local political economic processes of gold extraction and implications for gender and health. Janet earned a M.A. in Geography and Rural Development from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana. Her Master’s research explored the implications of urban expansion on peri-urban dwellers whose livelihoods depend on natural resources. Janet has also worked with local NGOs in Ghana to gain experience in health and environmental education. Her research interests include political ecology, gender, health, labor differences, social reproduction, indigenous ontologies, ethnography, and resource extraction.