Underground Multiculturalism: Contentious Cultural Politics in Gold-Mining Regions in Chocó, Colombia

Abstract: This article maps the contentious forms of political life that emerge when multicultural rights and non-formal gold extraction coincide. Specifically, it shows how, in the Colombian department of Chocó, Afro-descendant community councils have produced a unique form of mining governance that, while depending for its legitimacy on everyday uses of Afro-Colombian legislation, consists of the organisation, taxation and policing of mining activities that are in tension with official notions of extractive and multicultural law. In exploring such ‘underground’ cultural politics, the article highlights the limits of state-centric analyses of ‘neoliberal multiculturalism’ and, accordingly, underscores the instrumental role that governed subjects play in the on-the-ground unfolding of multicultural governance regimes.