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Middlebury College

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Program Name

Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology


The global mining industry is a site of contention and conflicts. While the term conflict stone generally refers to minerals that fund war activities, this paper understands conflicts in the broader sense: various forms of violence that perpetuate inequalities, impoverishment and suffering. This study looks at how the tanzanite trade network is organized and what can be done to change the uneven power dynamics maintained by the current political-economic system. I conducted 42 semi-structured interviews with local brokers, dealers and retailers in Arusha during the month of April, 2013. Using the global commodity chain sustainability analysis, I analyzed the perceived tensions between brokers, dealers, retailers and the Tanzanian government. Direct violence, common in lower-tier networks such as brokers and dealers, is not a “problem” to be solved but rather an informal strategic response to the systematic marginalization created by highertier actors, in particular TanzaniteOne, a transnational corporation and the largest tanzanite mining company in Tanzania. The neoliberal system deregulates global markets, provides an environment where transnational monopoly powers can proliferate, and yet at the same time denounces local informal economies that struggle to survive under the unjust system. Therefore, violence is many-faceted and is a subtext in the policy framework that legitimizes and perpetuates structural inequalities at the local, national and transnational levels. A source of conflicts and injustices, tanzanite is a conflict stone.


Economic Policy | Inequality and Stratification | Peace and Conflict Studies | Politics and Social Change


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