Exploring Ecologies and Labour in Unregulated Global Value Chains

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This paper is concerned with the political ecologies of environment and labour in global value chains with high degrees of illicit trade. In chains for mined natural resources, supplies often derive from ‘dark places’, representing harsh labour conditions in artisanal as well as corporate mining. At the same time, increasingly damaging mining and processing of non-renewable resources has led to over-exploitation that has already, and often irrevocably, contributed to local environmental harms, such as erosion, flooding and deforestation. The related social challenges stretch beyond labour conditions in mines to generate vulnerabilities of entire mining communities to climate change; pollution of rivers and drinking water, and ultimately poverty, social injustice and conflict. The paper uses the case of the surprisingly unregulated coloured gemstone industry, building on primary data, and also insight from the extant literature on global value chains, global production networks and political ecology in an attempt to engage with, and contribute to our understanding of, entanglements between nature and the social in highly unregulated chains
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventRGS-IBG Annual Conference 2022: Geographies beyond recovery - Newcastle University, Newcastle, United Kingdom
Duration: 30 Aug 20222 Sept 2022


ConferenceRGS-IBG Annual Conference 2022
LocationNewcastle University
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Illicit trade
  • Mined natural resources
  • Environmental labour studies
  • Gemstone industry
  • Global production

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