Selected publications

Here you find a selection of my recent publications with author copies to download. See also my profile on University of AntwerpResearchGate and GoogleScholar. Please contact me if you are interested and don’t have access (

Article “Heterogeneity and labour agency”

Geenen, Sara and Bikubanya, Divin-Luc (2024) Heterogeneity and Labour Agency in Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Development and Change.

Chapter “Chasing gold”

Dunia Kabunga, Philippe; Marijsse, Simon and Geenen, Sara (2024) Chasing gold. Technology, people, and matter on the move in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. In: Guzmán, Gerardo Castillo, Himley Matthew, Brereton David (eds.) Mining, Mobility, and Social Change in the Global South Regional Perspectives. London: Routledge, p.83-100.

Working paper “Driving change in the DRC”

Katz-Lavigne, S.; Arian, H. ; Deberdt, R. and Geenen, S. (2023) Driving Change in the Democratic Republic of Congo: an initial mapping of participation in mineral regulation and responsible sourcing. IOB Working Paper 2023.04.

Web article “Due diligence in mineral supply chains”

Bikubanya, D.L.; Arian, H.; Geenen, S. and Katz-Lavigne, S. (2023) Due Diligence in Mineral Supply Chains from the Democratic Republic of Congo. E-International Relations. Due Diligence in Mineral Supply Chains from the Democratic Republic of Congo (

Also published in French

Bikubanya, D.L.; Arian, H.; Geenen, S. and Katz-Lavigne, S. (2023)  Le « devoir de vigilance » dans l’approvisionnement en minerais du Congo. Alternatives Sud, vol. 30: 143-152. Bikubanya et al 2023_Devoir de vigilance dans l’approvisionnement des minerais en RDC

Special issue “Technologies and transformations”

Geenen, S.; Nkuba, B. & Radley, B. (2022) Technologies and transformations. Traces from a collective research project. The Extractive Industries and Society.

Geenen et al 2022_Technologies and transformations. Traces from a collective research project_Author copy

Article “Articulating sedimented subjectivities”

Verweijen, J., Geenen, S. and Bashizi, A. (2022) Articulating sedimented subjectivities: Extractive subject formation in eastern DRC. Geoforum.

Verweijen et al 2022_Articulating sedimented subjectivities

Policy briefs. Informining

Article “Women who ‘age too fast'”

This article is part of a special issue on Technologies and Transformations in Congolese ASGM in The Extractive Industries and Society.

Geenen, S.; Kabilambali, G.; Mussa Bashizi, F. & Vanlerberghe, E. (2022) Women who “age too fast”: Female work, bodies and health in the gold mines of Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The Extractive Industries and Society.

Geenen et al 2022_Women who age too fast Female work bodies & health_author copy

Article “Work regimes and technology-drven transformations”

This article is part of a special issue on Technologies and Transformations in Congolese ASGM in The Extractive Industries and Society.

Dunia Kabunga, P. and Geenen, S. (2022) Work regimes and technology-driven transformations in DRCongo’s artisanal and small-scale gold mines. The Extractive Industries and Society.

Dunia Kabunga and Geenen 2022_author copy

Working papers “Informining survey reports”

In our InForMining project, we carried out surveys with ASGM workers in three different countries: DRC, the Philippines and Peru. The extended survey reports are now available in French, English and Spanish respectively.

Bikubanya, D.L.; Geenen, S. and Verbrugge, B. (2022) InforMining. Une étude approfondie des dynamiques d’informalisation dans la production mondiale de l’or. République Démocratique du Congo. IOB Working paper 2022.03. University of Antwerp.

Robles Mengoa, M.E.; Geenen, S.; Verbrugge, B. and López Valverde, R. (2022) InForMining. Un estudio profundo de la informalidad en la producción global del oro. Perú. IOB Working paper 2022.04. University of Antwerp.

Robles Mengoa, E.E.; Geenen, S.; Verbrugge, B.; Besmanos, B. and López Valverde, R. (2022) InforMining. An in-depth study of informalization in global gold production. The Philippines. IOB Working paper 2022.05. University of Antwerp.

Article “Does formalization make a difference?”

This article is based on research carried out in the Philippines for the InForMining project. Together with Maria Eugenia Robles Mengoa and Boris Verbrugge, we ask the question whether formalization makes a difference for artisanal and small-scale gold mine workers.

Robles, M.E.; Verbrugge, B. & Geenen, S. (2022) Does formalization make a difference in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM)? Insights from the Philippines. The Extractive Industries and Society,

Robles, Verbrugge and Geenen 2022_Does formalization make a difference_Author copy

Article “Formalization of ASGM”

I have been invited by Graham Prescott to contribute to this article, which asks the question how to formalize ASGM, how much it will cost, and who has to pay for it.

Prescott, Graham; Baird, Matthew; Geenen, Sara; Nkuba, Bossissi; Phelps, Jacob and Webb, Edward (2022) Formalizing Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining: a Grand Challenge of the Minamata Convention. One Earth.

Prescott et al 2022_Formalization of ASGM grand challenge of Minamata Convention_Author copy

Chapter “Governance”

Jeroen Cuvelier, Boris Verbrugge and I have been invited by editors Robert Pijpers and Lorenzo d’Angelo to contribute a chapter on governance to the handbook Anthropology of resource extraction. We made a video abstract, which you wan watch here.

Cuvelier, J., Geenen, S. and Verbrugge, B. (2022) Governance. In: D’Angelo, L. and Pijpers, R. The anthropology of resource extraction. Routledge: 77-93.Cuvelier et al 2022_Governance_Anthropology of resource extraction

Working paper series “Transformations dans l’exploitation de l’or au Sud-Kivu, RD Congo”

Cette série de working papers est le produit de deux projets de recherche, et d’une équipe de chercheurs. Les recherches ont été conçues comme une recherche collaborative, avec une implication active des membres dans toutes les étapes de la recherche, de la conception jusqu’à l’écriture. Les personnes suivantes font partie de l’équipe: Divin-Luc Bikubanya, Philippe Dunia Kabunga, Sara Geenen, Olivier Igugu, Gracia Kabilambali, Patrick Katoto, Simon Marijsse, Daniel Mayeri, Gabriel Muhanzi Aganze, Serge Mukotanyi Mugisho, Ancert Mushagalusa Buhendwa, Thierry Munga Mwisha, Fiz Mussa Bashizi, Bossissi Nkuba, Ben Radley, Elisa Vanlerberghe, Franck Zahinda Mugisho. Nous remercions les bailleurs de fonds FWO, à travers le projet FWO-EOS Winners and Losers from Globalization and Market Integration (G056718N) et le VLIR-UOS et l’Université d’Anvers à travers son programme Global Minds. La recherche était coordonnée par Sara Geenen et le Centre d’Expertise en Gestion Minière (CEGEMI) à l’Université Catholique de Bukavu. La série compte 7 papiers en total. Je suis co-auteur des 3 suivants:

Dunia Kabunga, Philippe & Geenen, Sara (2021) Transformations technologiques et régimes de travail dans l’exploitation minière artisanale et à petite échelle au Sud-Kivu, RDC. IOB Working Paper 2021.04. University of Antwerp, Institute of Development Policy.

Dunia Kabunga and Geenen 2021_Transformations technologiques

Geenen, Sara; Kabilambali, Gracia; Mussa Bashizi, Fiz & Vanlerberghe, Elisa (2021) Celles qui “vieillissent trop vite”. La santé des femmes dans les mines de Kamituga, RDC. IOB Working Paper 2021.07. University of Antwerp, Institute of Development Policy.

Geenen et al 2021_La santé des femmes dans les mines

Geenen, Sara; Bikubanya, Divin-Luc; Dunia Kabunga, Philippe; Igugu, Olivier; Kabilambali, Gracia; Katoto, Patrick; Marijsse, Simon; Mayeri, Daniel; Muhanzi Aganze, Gabriel; Mukotanyi Mugisho, Mussa Bashizi, Fiz; Nkuba, Bossissi; Vanlerberghe, Elisa; Zahinda Mugisho, Franck (2021) La fièvre de l’or. Santé et environnement dans les mines d’or de Kamituga, RDC. IOB Working Paper 2021.10. University of Antwerp, Institute of Development Policy.

Geenen et al 2021_La fièvre de l’or

Working paper “Industrie minière et développement local en RDC. Focus sur l’emploi dans les sous-traitances”

Between 2017 and 2019 we did research in three different mining concessions in Eastern DRC, focusing on labour in subcontracting companies working for multinational gold miners. The research was funded by FWO and resulted in a wealth of data on labour conditions, inclusion and exclusion, local content, company-community relations, inequalities in the labour market, and much more. Several articles have been published and are in preparation. This extensive report, in French, has been written with the specific aim of initiating a dialogue with local communities and stakeholders. It can be downloaded here: Geenen et al 2021_Industrie minière et développement local en RDC

Article “Struggles over value: corporate-state suppression of locally led mining mechanisation”

Ben Radley and I have reflected on the limitations of GVC theory (which does consider how value is distributed, but not how value is transferred from one actor to another) and practice (giving priority to foreign-led large-scale production). Based on our field research in South Kivu, DRCongo, we argue that locally led processes of capital accumulation and mining mechanisation have been held back by a coalition between transnational capital
and the Congolese state. The article has been published in Review of African Political Economy: Struggles over value: corporate–state suppression of locally led mining mechanisation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The authors copy can be downloaded here : Radley and Geenen 2021_Struggles Over Value_Author copy

Article “How much do artisanal miners earn? An inquiry among Congolese gold miners”

It is a simple question, but one to which we have surprisingly few quantified answers: how much do artisanal miners earn? In this Resources Policy article, co-authored with Nik Stoop and Marijke Verpoorten, we try to find out how much different categories of miners earn, and what determines their earning.  It is based on a representative survey among 469 artisanal miners in Kamituga that Nik and Marijke, together with Janvier Kilosho, carried out in 2015. The survey instrument is available here. The author copy can be found here: Geenen, Stoop and Verpoorten 2020_How much do artisanal miners earn_author copy

Discussion Paper “Framing street vending in Guayaquil – Ecuador. From hegemonic discourses to a rights-based approach”

This discussion paper is based on research Lisette Villacres carried out for her master dissertation at IOB. The paper can be freely downloaded from the IOB website.

Book “Global Gold Production touching ground. Expansion, informalization, and technological innovation”

Co-edited with Boris Verbrugge and published by Palgrave. Part of the InForMining project. Individual chapters are presented in these blog posts.

In recent decades, gold mining has moved into increasingly remote corners of the globe. Aside from the expansion of industrial gold mining, many countries have simultaneously witnessed an expansion of labor-intensive and predominantly informal artisanal and small-scale gold mining. Both trends are usually studied in isolation, which contributes to a dominant image of a dual gold mining economy.

Counteracting this dominant view, this volume adopts a global perspective, and demonstrates that both industrial gold mining and artisanal and small-scale gold mining are functionally integrated into a global gold production system. It couples an analysis of structural trends in global gold production (expansion, informalization, and technological innovation) to twelve country case studies that detail how global gold production becomes embedded in institutional and ecological structures.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction: Snapshots of Global Gold Mining: 1. Verbrugge&Geenen-Chap.1


Chapter 2. Theorizing the Global Gold Production System: 2. Geenen&Verbrugge-Chap.2

Chapter 3. Global Expansion: 3. Verbrugge&Geenen-chap.3

Chapter 4. Informalization: 4. Geenen&Verbrugge-Chap.4

Chapter 5. Technological Innovation and Structural Change


Chapter 6. Brazil: Forever Informal

Chapter 7. Peru: Curtailing Smuggling, Regionalizing Trade

Chapter 8. Colombia: Legal Loopholes Behind Illegal Gold Trade: 8. Robles Mengoa&Uran-Chap.8

Chapter 9. Ghana: A History of Expansion and Contraction

Chapter 10. Ghana: Controversy, Corruption and Chinese Miners

Chapter 11. Burkina Faso: Global Gold Expansion and Local Terrains

Chapter 12. Uganda: Gold as a (Trans)National Treasure

Chapter 13. Guinea-Conakry and Burkina Faso: Innovations at the Periphery

Chapter 14. The Democratic Republic of Congo: From Stones in the River to Diving for Dollars: 14. Geenen&Marijsse-Chap.14

Chapter 15. Zimbabwe: A Gold Mining Boom Amidst Rapid Agrarian Change

Chapter 16. Madagascar: Emergence and Persistence of the Hundred-Year Frontier

Chapter 17. Indonesia: Adaptation and Differentiation in Informal Gold Mining

Chapter 18. The Philippines: State-Sanctioned Informalization

Chapter 19. Conclusion: 19. Geenen&Verbrugge-Chap.19

Article “Gold and godfathers: local content, politics, and capitalism in extractive industries”

In this World Development article I critically assess ‘local content’ as a practice in four gold mining concessions in the DRC and in Ghana. I argue that local content policies are implemented in complex political arenas, where the power holders use them as political instruments to enhance profit accumulation and control rents. Moreover they are embedded in the structural dynamics that permeate large-scale extractivist projects, producing (new) patterns of exclusion. Geenen 2019_Gold and godfathers_author copy

Article “Invisible and ignored? Local perspectives on mercury in Congolese gold mining”

This article on local perspectives on mercury pollution is co-authored with Bossissi Nkuba and Lieven Bervoets. It is published in the Journal of Cleaner Production and relies on Bossissi Nkuba’s field research in Kamituga. Nkuba, Bervoets & Geenen 2019_Local perspectives on mercury in Congolese gold mining

Article “The gold commodity frontier”

In this article, co-authored with Boris Verbrugge for The Extractive Industries and Society, we study the ‘gold commodity frontier’, arguing that gold mining, in an attempt to overcome several socio-ecological and socio-political limitations, has expanded outside its historical core into a range of new mining destinations (widening), and has come to rely on an intensification of production through socio-technical innovations (deepening). These processes of widening and deepening have not only led to an expansion of industrial mining, but are also, increasingly, contributing to a (geographically unequal) expansion of ASGM. Verbrugge and Geenen 2018_The gold commodity frontier

Article “Local elites’ extraversion and repositioning”

This article is co-authored with Jeroen Cuvelier for The Extractive Industries and Society. Using empirical data from different mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we study the role of local elites in mineral production networks. We conceptualize local elites as those who access and control (exclude others from) the factors of production (land, labour and capital) and argue they are able to do so because they operate across scales (extraversion) and adapt to changes in the political economy (repositioning). Geenen and Cuvelier 2018_Local elites’ extraversion and repositioning_Author copy

Discussion Paper “Women in (and out of) artisanal mining in Uganda”

This paper is co-authored with Stella Muheki and published as an IOB Discussion paper. Free download following this link.

Article “Underground dreams. Uncertainty, risk and anticipation in the gold production network”

This article is published in Geoforum. Focusing on the gold production network in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, this article reinforces earlier arguments about risk: first, it operates ‘at the intersection of capital and rule’; second, it obscures the uneven distribution of capitalism’s negative impact, as well as corporate actors’ active role in producing such impact. Moreover, it argues that the production of risk (expected costs) and anticipation (expected gains) by corporate actors conceals and devalues the ways in which other actors in the gold production network deal with the extreme uncertainty that characterizes the market and the institutional environment in which they operate, as well as the resource’s materiality. Geenen 2018_Underground dreams_Author copy

Article “Explaining fragmented and fluid mobilization in gold mining concessions in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo”

This article is co-authored with Judith Verweijen. It is part of a special issue on social mobilization in The Extractive Industries and Society. In our contribution we argue that mobilization against large-scale mining in Eastern DRC is hyper-fragmented and fluid. We ascribe this high degree of fluidity and fragmentation both to factors internal to the social mobilization effort, including limited organizational potential and the heterogeneity of attitudes and discourses, and the political and socio-economic context, characterized by intense conflicts, patronage-based politics, poverty and repression. Additionally, we identify certain company practices as undermining the sustainability and coherence of social mobilization. Geenen and Verweijen 2017_Explaining fragmented and fluid mobilization_Author copy

Article “Different faces of access control in a Congolese gold mine”

This article is co-authored with Klara Claessens and reports on fieldwork in Mukungwe mine, South Kivu. It is published in a special issue on artisanal mining in Third World ThematicsGeenen and Claessens 2016_Different faces of access control in a Congolese gold mine_author copy.

Chapter “DRC mining sector”

Together with em. prof. Stefaan Marysse I wrote a brief overview chapter on the Congolese mining sector in Springer Encyclopedia of mineral and energy policy. Here is the chapter: Geenen and Marysse 2016_DRC Mining sector.

Article “Mining cooperatives in Eastern DRC”

This article is co-authored with Jorden De Haan and was published in Extractive Industries and Society. The author copy can be downloaded here: De Haan and Geenen 2016_Mining cooperatives in South Kivu_Author copy

Article “Artisanal frontier mining of gold in Africa”

This article is co-authored with Deborah Bryceson and published in African Affairs. The author copy can be downloaded here: Bryceson and Geenen 2016_Artisanal frontier mining of gold in Africa_author copy.

Book “African artisanal mining from the inside out”

My book on Access, norms and power in the Congolese gold sector is now out with Routledge.

It is based on my PhD dissertation from 2014, which can be downloaded here: Geenen 2014_The political economy of access to gold mining and trade in South Kivu DRC_PhD

Brief “Mining cooperatives in South Kivu”

Together with Jorden De Haan I wrote an Analysis and Policy Brief on Mining cooperatives in South Kivu.

Book “Real governance and practical norms” 2015

Evident but elusive. Practical norms in the Congolese gold sector“, in De Herdt, T. and Olivier de Sardan, J.P. (2015) Real governance and practical norms in SSA. The game of the rules, Routledge.

Conjonctures Congolaises 2015

Les limites d’une gouvernance par le bas. Les logiques des coopératives minières à Kalimbi, Sud-Kivu with Anuarite Bashizi, in Marysse, S. et Omasombo, J. (2015) Conjonctures Congolaises 2014 : politiques, territoires et ressources naturelles : changements et continuités.

Book “Losing your land” 2014

Land grabbing by mining companies, local contentions and state reconfiguration in South-Kivu, DRC (with dr. Jana Hönke) in Ansoms, A. and Hilhorst, T. (eds.) Losing your land. Dispossession in the Great Lakes

The Journal of Modern African Studies 2013