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The Shimmer and Shade of Gold: the project, the book, the collaboration

What is it with gold? I was involved in a research project tracing responsible investments in extractive industries. I read up on mining, especially on gold mining. I began interviewing people more broadly about gold and I got intrigued. What on earth is it about gold that has fascinated people from all over the world and for so long? The attempt to trace gold from mine to vault – and in between - became a spin-off project. Then a long-time friend and photographer called and said she had been thinking about gold lately. She was preoccupied with doomsday news on the climate, the economy, the lack of trust in institutions. When things break down, what will remain? Is it gold? And if so, why? Together, we decided to embark on a quest to follow the path of gold from pit to pit: from deep down in mine shafts to deep down in vaults and through all thinkable uses in between. We set out to find people that, in one way or another, work with or own gold–and learn from them. We learned how the faith in and desire for gold is expressed across the world today and we also found out what, and who, are in the shadows of the precious metal. In this presentation I first account for how the project of tracing gold from pit to pit emerged, I then move on to present the content of the book and finish with some reflections on collaborating with a professional photographer and on writing with the aim of reaching a broader audience.

Anette Nyqvist is Associate Professor of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University. She used to make her living as a journalist and author. Susanne Walström works as a free-lance photographer and is based in Stockholm. A selection of her photographs from the book will accompany the presentation.