For Richer, for Poorer: Marriage and Casualized Sex in East African Artisanal Mining Settlements


  • Deborah Fahy Bryceson,

  • Jesper Bosse Jønsson,

  • Hannelore Verbrugge

  • We would like to express gratitude to our anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments, the Geocenter Denmark and Vlaamse-Interuniversitaire Raad (VLIR) for financing the field work, and the University of Glasgow's Urbanization and Poverty in Mining Africa (UPIMA) project funded by the UK Department for International Development (DfID) and the Economic Research Council (ESRC RES-167–25–0488) for their support during the analysis and writing up of this paper.

  • [This copyright line was revised on 19 September 2014.]


Migrants to Tanzania's artisanal gold mining sites seek mineral wealth, which is accompanied by high risks of occupational hazards, economic failure, AIDS and social censure from their home communities. Male miners in these settlements compete to attract newly arrived young women who are perceived to be diverting male material support from older women and children's economic survival. This article explores the dynamics of monogamy, polygamy and promiscuity in the context of rapid occupational change. It shows how a wide spectrum of productive and welfare outcomes is generated through sexual experimentation, which calls into question conventional concepts of prostitution, marriage and gender power relations.