Rosalind Morris is Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. Morris’s Academy project, “Unstable Ground,” is based on nearly twenty years of field research in South Africa’s...
Andrew W. Mellon Lecture in the Humanities
The Afterlives of Gold: Mining and Migrancy in Southern Africa
Drawing on two decades of ethnographic fieldwork and using film footage from a documentary on informal mining in the de-industrializing spaces of South Africa’s gold mines, Rosalind Morris considers how the social and material infrastructures of that sector (from electrification and water removal, to financial systems and structures of coerced and ethnicized migrant labor) have shaped the forms of life that are emerging in its ruins. In this anthropological and aesthetico-political account of these life-worlds, she explores what it means to live in a fully monetized world from which waged labor is increasingly absent, how the lure of gold functions in the aftermath of the gold standard, and what migration means for those whose undocumented status makes such movement a source of criminality—and vulnerability to both state and non-state violence.