Insights from Zambian miners for rethinking development policy and the environment

The world is at a critical point as humanity contemplates how our own activity is contributing to changes in the earth and atmosphere. Formidable challenges require raising fundamental questions and learning from unlikely sources. Drawing on field research conducted on the Zambian Copperbelt, this article explores how public conversations concerning differing views of reality can inform development-related thinking about the environment. Enumerating practical examples where words and images both conveyed and shaped conflicting viewpoints in the industrial mine setting, the article asserts that much can be learned from the experiential viewpoints of underground miners. Policy making could benefit, for instance, from lessening its dependence on dominant economic thinking and increasingly drawing upon historical, cultural, philosophical, and theological insights when devising policies, projects, and procedures. Questions of power, control, and humanity’s self-conception in relation to the physical world are also explored. pp403-411