Gifting luck: The generativity of kin and action among Gbaya gold miners

This paper explores practices and conceptualisations of luck (‘desonti’) among Gbaya artisanal miners in Cameroon. It traces the emergence and transmission of luck through gift-giving and ritual relations with kin, notably children and ancestors, and how it animates the material and value transformations taking place in mining. In doing so, I consider how ‘luck’ blurs the analytical boundaries between exchange, ritual and technical acts to show how this generative, vital force is both produced through human action and renders it efficacious. Focusing on the unpredictable production of gold, I explore how Gbaya notions of ‘luck’ simultaneously express the limits of human agency whilst providing an alternative agentive framework through which uncertainty is negotiated. 

Departmental Seminar Series Michaelmas 2022

3.15pm, Fridays (Weeks 2-6, 8). On Teams only in Weeks 3 and 8, otherwise in 64 Banbury Road and on Teams.

The Seminar is replaced in Week 7 by the Geoffrey Harrison Prize Lecture which takes place at 4pm on 25 November in 64 Banbury Road.

Convened by Ina Zharkevich and Chihab El Khachab