Article ID: CBB767264594

Making Mercury’s Histories: Mercury in Gold Mining’s Past and Present (2023)


This article considers the presence and absence of mercury, and why in different social arenas where gold features, mercury can become either pervasive or elusive. To substantiate this argument, the article offers two contrasting examples: (1) presentation strategies at Pacific Seaboard gold rush heritage sites, and (2) the background to the Minamata Bay tragedy and the Minamata Convention’s subsequent framing of mercury use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining in the Global South. By unpacking these divergent social histories of mercury use and its consequences, the article identifies the current disconnect between different histories of mercury, and the problematic consequences of this disengagement.

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Authors & Contributors
Avenell, Simon
Banerjee, Madhulika
Bilak, Donna
Cooper, Timothy
Egan, Michael
George, Timothy S.
Environmental History
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity
Bulletin for the History of Chemistry
Environment and History
Social History of Medicine
Harvard University Asia Center
James Currey
University Press of Colorado
Renaissance Books
Mercury (element)
Environmental pollution
Mercury poisoning
Mines and mining
Disasters; catastrophes
Environmental history
Time Periods
21st century
20th century
20th century, early
18th century
20th century, late
Great Britain
California (U.S.)
South Africa

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