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The Slow Road to Tatarus: Technological Fetishism, Materiality, and the Trafficking in 'Conflict Minerals' in the Eastern DR Congo
Dr. Jeff Mantz of George Mason Univeristy and the National Science Foundation
For the last fifteen years, the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been the site of a protracted conflict that has claimed millions of lives and exacted harrowing levels of social and ecological damage. At the center of this conflict is the extraction of and trade in minerals that are essential to produce most of the electronic products we now associate with the digital age (notably mobile phones, but also microprocessors and gaming consoles). Various state-sponsored and independent militias have long fought to control the production and circulation of these minerals, often through extra-legal means (forced labor, theft, intimation, terror), as mining has proven lucrative enough to allow them to buy arms to further their military objectives. This talk examines the events that have unfolded over this period to analyze a series of relationships that have emerged between evolving forms of fetishization on the one hand, and the material experiences produced through the trafficking in conflict minerals on the other.