Date of Graduation

Spring 5-15-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Migration Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


Migration Studies

First Advisor

Karina Hodoyan


This study focuses on how artisanal mining in three regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)--Katanga and North and South Kivu-- have displaced and dispossessed surrounding communities. The study examines two related questions. First, how does artisanal mining affect the patterns of displacement and internal migration across the DRC? Second, how and why are mining companies able to displace local communities? Several existing theories provide insight into these research questions. This thesis draws on the contributions of four existing approaches, including 1) primitive accumulation or accumulation by dispossession (Harvey, 2013; Harrison, 2003); 2) weak state capacity (Herbst 2001); 3) The resource curse (Watts 2010, Ross 2014), and 4) the centrality of land and property rights in Africa (Bonne 2014; Autesserre, 2009). These scholars’ approaches are very important in understanding how multinational corporations affect the development of underdeveloped countries and their communities.

Building on existing studies of mining and development-induced displacement, this thesis argues that displacement is caused by processes of economic accumulation by artisanal mining companies; this means that powerful nations care more about capital than human life, despite scholars and policymakers who suggest that mining corporations provide benefits by generating wealth for local communities.

I argue, however, that there is significant evidence transnational mining companies benefit economically through exploiting vulnerable populations and, in particular, by exploiting the insecure land tenure rights of the rural poor.

To examine this argument, I draw on NGO reports and analyze mining-induced displacement in the provinces of North and South Kivu and Katanga, all located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Specifically, I draw on secondary literature and interviews, and other relevant data published in NGO reports. These data sources, while limited, are nonetheless useful, enabling me to trace the effects of mining corporations on local communities and, specifically, how these corporations drive patterns of internal migration. The data I’ve gathered suggests that as artisanal mining increases in a given area, we see a greater rate of land dispossession.

Available for download on Friday, April 10, 2026

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