Gendered and embodied legacies: Mercury's afterlife in West Lombok, Indonesia


This paper introduces a gender angle to the growing body of literature on the legacies of mining. It shows that gender-selective roles in informal artisanal and small-scale mining expose women's bodies to the worst health effects. These are then transmitted generationally to the biological function of child-bearing. Women's invisible—and often unpaid labors—relegate them to the periphery of informal artisanal and small-scale gold mining, strip them of their agency, and burden them with the nastiest of legacy effects, that of generational harm to unborn babies and fetuses, who suffer physical and mental deformities and disabilities. To show how mining legacies are gendered and embodied, this paper presents a case of a gold mining site in West Lombok, Indonesia, considered one of the mercury “hot spots” of the world. The paper contributes to the literature on mining legacies by pointing out the gender-selective and embodied nature of mining legacies.