The Anthropology of Precious Minerals

Edited by Elizabeth Ferry, Annabel Vallard, and Andrew Walsh

© 2019

Why do people single out gold, sapphires, diamonds, and other minerals as particularly “precious”? What makes precious minerals “precious”? Drawing from ethnographic and cross-cultural research, this collection of anthropological essays and case studies answers these questions by exploring humans’ multifaceted relationships with the minerals they deem “precious.”

The Anthropology of Precious Minerals addresses the entanglement of humans and minerals, with a particular focus on the practices of scrappers, miners, and hunters as they work to extract value. The editors draw from history, archaeology, and ethnography, and remind us that “preciousness” must always be understood in relation to complex cultural, political-economic, and semiotic systems of value.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 216 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.2in x 1.0in x 9.1in
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SKU# SP004949

  • PUBLISHED DEC 2019

    From: $41.25

    Regular Price: $55.00

    ISBN 9781487503178
  • PUBLISHED NOV 2019

    From: $41.25

    Regular Price: $55.00

Quick Overview

Based on a Wenner-Gren international workshop, held at the Royal Ontario Museum, this book addresses the complexity of human-mineral engagements through ethnographic case studies and anthropological reflections on different people and the minerals they deem ‘precious.’

The Anthropology of Precious Minerals

Edited by Elizabeth Ferry, Annabel Vallard, and Andrew Walsh

© 2019

Why do people single out gold, sapphires, diamonds, and other minerals as particularly “precious”? What makes precious minerals “precious”? Drawing from ethnographic and cross-cultural research, this collection of anthropological essays and case studies answers these questions by exploring humans’ multifaceted relationships with the minerals they deem “precious.”

The Anthropology of Precious Minerals addresses the entanglement of humans and minerals, with a particular focus on the practices of scrappers, miners, and hunters as they work to extract value. The editors draw from history, archaeology, and ethnography, and remind us that “preciousness” must always be understood in relation to complex cultural, political-economic, and semiotic systems of value.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 216 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.2in x 1.0in x 9.1in
  • Reviews

    "The Anthropology of Precious Minerals highlights the fluid entanglements between humans and precious minerals. In doing this, the editors draw from history, archaeology, and contemporary ethnography, while several of the contributing authors draw from literary works in such ways that obscure the boundaries between the material and immaterial."


    Nicole Smith, Department of Mining Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

    "With distinct chapters, this volume conveys the dynamic and complex processes of valuation and circulation of precious minerals. I very much enjoyed this breadth. It illustrated the fascinating questions that arise in diverse but related instances."


    Mette M. High, Department of Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews

    "Sophisticated and fascinating, The Anthropology of Precious Minerals makes valuable contributions to several key theoretical issues in contemporary anthropology, and features notable scholarship and excellent prose."


    Anne Meneley, Department of Anthropology, Trent University
  • Author Information

    Elizabeth Ferry is a professor in the Department of Anthropology at Brandeis University.


    Annabel Vallard is a researcher at The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS, France).


    Andrew Walsh is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at Western University.
  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgments

    Introduction: Engaging Precious Minerals
    Andrew Walsh, Elizabeth Ferry, and Annabel Vallard

    Part One: Engaging Mineral Sources

    Introduction to Part One: Scrappers, Miners, and Hunters
    Susan D. Gillespie

    1. "Check Out That Gold-Plated Board!" Scrapping Cellphones and Electronics in North America
    Joshua A. Bell

    2. What Is "Artisanal" about "Artisanal Mining"? Reflections from Madagascar’s Sapphire Trade
    Andrew Walsh

    3. The Value and Social Lives of Alpine Crystals
    Gilles Raveneau

    Part Two: Mineral Connections

    Introduction to Part Two: Making Preciousness: Distinction and Refraction
    Elizabeth Ferry

    4. When Stones Become Gems: Valuations of Minerals in Thailand
    Annabel Vallard

    5. Transparent Minerals and Opaque Diamond Sources
    Filipe Calv√£o

    6. Gold, Ontological Difference, and Object Agency
    Les W. Field

    Afterword: Facets of Preciousness
    Andrew Walsh, Elizabeth Ferry, and Annabel Vallard

    Contributors
    Index

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