What are you looking for?

Blair Rutherford small

Blair Rutherford

Nias Individual Fellow

Project title

The “social work” of work: The gendered dependencies of rural livelihoods in southern Africa

Project description

How can the gendered claims on income and resources in rural Africa contribute to reevaluating dominant perspectives on rural work held by multilateral organizations, donors, NGOs, and scholarly discourse? Existing literature has predominantly focused on wage labor, despite the fact that only a minority of the adult population in the region has been engaged in such work. Furthermore, little attention has been given to the gendered obligations that shape rural labor, whether it falls under the “formal” or “informal” sector.

Blair Rutherford aims to challenge prevailing notions of rural work in southern Africa by examining the cultural politics of rural livelihoods over the past thirty years. He argues that conventional framings, such as the dichotomy between the “informal” and the “formal,” overlook the intricate gendered social relations that underpin rural labor practices in the region.

Selected publications

Rutherford, B. 2022. “Migration, Authority, and the Gendered Organization of Labour in Artisanal Gold Mining in Sierra Leone (and Mozambique).” Africa 92(3): 354-372.

Rutherford, B. 2020. “The moral politics of gendered labour in artisanal mining in Sierra Leone.” Development and Change 51(3): 771-793.

Buss, D. and B. Rutherford. 2020. “Gendering Women’s Livelihoods in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining: An Introduction,” Canadian Journal of African Studies 54(1): 1-16.