Nkota Wata : mining and metaphor in Hamtai-Anga "Gold Dreaming"
This work examines a series of mining-related dream narratives as a means of gauging how a community of New Guinean artisanal and small-scale gold miners understands the nature of minerals and their place in the cosmos, and how this cosmological outlook informs the ways they operate qua resource extractors. Through a "structural-metaphorical" analysis of the symbolic themes and ethnographic context of Hamtai-Anga "gold dreaming, " my thesis demonstrates that the miners of Kaindi conceptualise resource extraction in terms of a set of collaborative, procreative, and nurturing relations of "marriage" and of "affinity" between themselves, their spirit familiars, and the masalai (or guardian spirits) of the mines. According to this complex "holography of meaning", the miners are able to "generate”, “exercise, " and "make apparent" their extractive efficacy through a relational and elicitive engagement with their gendered "other"- or, in other words, by means of their capacity to make their female spirit familiars "fall in love" with them, "procreate" minerals like women procreate children, procure gold as wives provide garden food, and link them to the spirits of the mines as women link men to their in-laws. In order to secure and maintain their elicitive power, however, the miners must "enact" this metaphor by "behaving like" "good husbands" and "good affines" towards their familiars and the spirits of the mines. In turn, this means that the tropic conceptualisation of mining as conjugality and affinity with the masalai\familiars is a recipe for action imbued with its own intrinsic morality. This morality, moreover, is itself of an essentially holographic nature. Indeed, not only does it entail analogous normative structures at different "orders" of scale (that is both at the "microcosmic" "level" of interaction between the miners and their human spouses and affines, and in the "macrocosmic" plane of exchange between humans, spirit familiars, and spirits of the mines) but, as is revealed in my thesis, the two "orders" at which it unfolds are actually part of a single whole, so that the flow of analogy at the "macrocosmic" "level" has crucial implications for its "microcosmic" counter-flow, and vice-versa.