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"Leviathans at the Gold Mine is a game-changing work. Any one of its chapters would be enough to secure its place as a breakthrough book, but the ensemble is a tour de force of the sort that comes along only rarely. Future debates about the politics of resource development or the relation between states, transnational corporations, and indigenous people will have to start here. Theories about globalization, structure, and agency will have to take it into account. And the bar for Melanesian ethnography has just been raised."—Dan Jorgensen, University of Western Ontario
"Leviathans at the Gold Mine is an important contribution to our knowledge of the Porgera mine and mining in Papua New Guinea more generally. Alex Golub offers a subtle, original reading of mine-landowner relations, as well as new information about the microprocesses associated with Porgera mining, such as how landownership is determined and how royalty checks are distributed. Those insights will be welcomed by scholars interested in local-global articulations and the politics and misunderstandings associated with them."—Aletta Biersack, coeditor of Reimagining Political Ecology
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Leviathans at the Gold Mine is an ethnographic account of the relationship between the Ipili, an indigenous group in Papua New Guinea, and the large international gold mine operating on their land. It was not until 1939 that Australian territorial patrols reached the Ipili. By 1990, the third largest gold mine on the planet was operating in their valley. Alex Golub examines how "the mine" and "the Ipili" were brought into being in relation to one another, and how certain individuals were authorized to speak for the mine and others to speak for the Ipili. Considering the relative success of the Ipili in their negotiations with a multinational corporation, Golub argues that a unique conjuncture of personal relationships and political circumstances created a propitious moment during which the dynamic and fluid nature of Ipili culture could be used to full advantage. As that moment faded away, social problems in the valley increased. The Ipili now struggle with the extreme social dislocation brought about by the massive influx of migrants and money into their valley.