Diamond Mining and Local Resistance to Capitalism and Neoliberalism

By Cameron Macaskill (Department of Political Science)

With its broad representation of different regions and analysis at the global, state, and local levels, the Worlds in Contention conference succeeded in connecting different conceptualizations and cases of capitalist and neoliberal structures across geographies and across academic literature. As a graduate student fellow at the conference, the presentations on mining, land, and local resistance were particularly useful to my current and future work as a scholar.  

My own work examines African states’ membership in international organizations (IOs) and how this membership is impacted by racial hierarchies and the neoliberal orientation of the international system. At the Worlds in Contention conference, I presented a project arguing that the international Kimberley Process falsely dichotomized diamonds as “conflict” or “conflict-free.” In doing so, the Kimberley process disconnected diamond extraction from the inherent violence within diamond supply chains and relied on NGO campaigns that leveraged bloody images of African citizens, a problematic reinforcement of racialized colonial stereotypes about African violence. By thinking through this process, my project seeks to unveil violence behind supply chains of luxury goods, such as diamonds. After participation in the conference, however, one critique of the piece stands out: the glaring absence of local resistance networks and their ability to disrupt these violent practices.  Continue reading