The risks are on your on hand: Identifying, Managing and Communicating the Health Impacts of Man Made Disasters from Bombana Artisanal Gold Mining, in Southeast Sulawesi, Eastern Indonesia

Fitrilailah Mokui (The Australian National University)


The massive irresponsible artisanal gold mining activities could be categorized as man made activities that I believe can bring a lot of potential disasters for the community. In Bombana mining area, this man made activities, have been massively conducted since the gold rush happened in 2008. Sarah Beavis, a hydrologic expert from the Australian National University and Andrew McWilliam,  (Beavis and McWilliam, 2015) have reported that mercury has contaminated water in some area around mining areas in Bombana. During my ethnographic research in the same areas, I also found that the invisible and visible disasters resulted from mining activities have threatened people who live around mining areas, the Bombana community and the Southeast Sulawesi province in general.

This paper is going to showcase how the mining activities that I and Bombana society have seen them as man made activities, have been developing potential disasters for community, which are socially and culturally perceived. I am also going to explore the power relations between the political powers of Bombana local government along with investigating disaster responses of the Bombana society. I will comprehensively identify to the duty of care of the local government and related stakeholders to identify, to manage and to communicate the risks to the society in order to prevent its sequences massive negative impacts. I will employ the theory of Panopticon from Foucault as well as cultural risk perception of Mary Douglas to explain these issues.

This paper is written based on one-year ethnographic study in Rau-rau village as part of my thesis entitled: Layering the risks: Health Impacts and Perceptions of Bombana Artisanal Gold Mining Activities in Eastern Indonesia.

Keywords: artisanal gold mining, man-made disasters, health risks, duty of care, political power and disaster response