Moral economies and child labour in artisanal gold mining in ghana

Samuel Okyere*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

8 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter examines neo-abolitionist representations of children’s participation in precarious labour as ‘child slavery’ using the accounts of children seeking income earning opportunities in the Ghanaian artisanal gold mining sector. The chapter argues that the labelling of this phenomenon as ‘modern slavery’ or ‘child slavery’ by Free the Slaves and other neo-abolitionist groups is a misnomer. Juxtaposing the children’s accounts of their work and lived experiences with neo-abolitionist rhetoric on same, the chapter demonstrates that the ‘child slavery’ label and other commonly held mainstream assumptions on worst forms of child labour (WFCL) are driven by moral, political and discursive logics which contrast with those held by children and communities directly affected by the WFCL phenomenon. Consequently, abolitionist and mainstream responses to the problem fail to address the causal factors identified by affected children and communities. The chapter concludes that lasting solutions to this child rights issue requires respect for the views of affected children and communities and action against the structural factors which produce the conditions necessitating children’s entry into jobs such as artisanal mining.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRevisiting Slavery and Antislavery
Subtitle of host publicationTowards a Critical Analysis
EditorsJulia O'Connell Davidson, Laura Brace
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9783319906232
ISBN (Print)9783319906225
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2018


  • Abolition
  • Capitalism
  • Child slavery
  • Childhood
  • Ghana. child labour
  • Mining
  • Structural adjustment


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