How “clean gold” came to matter: Metal detectors, infrastructure, and valuation

Sandra Calkins


Recently an ancient resource—gold—gained new importance in Sudan. To inquire into the making of values and their negotiation at a time of national economic reorientation, I explore the emergence of a resource category, so-called clean gold, and link this to the introduction of a new prospecting technology—metal detectors. I follow the translation of metal detectors to Sudan and explore them in relation to a broader techno-economic infrastructure of artisanal gold mining that enables the extractive practice and circulates new forms of moral reasoning. Not only has a new resource category emerged but I argue that these devices and the moral worlds they have coconstituted have also enabled younger men to test and challenge the economic and moral authority of an older generation of men.


metal detector; gold mining; infrastructure; technology; resources; Sudan; valuation

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14318/hau6.2.013