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Continuity and Change: HIV, Migrancy and Corporate Responsibility in a South African Mining Company | Engaging Resources
New Anthropological Perspectives on Natural Resource Environments

Continuity and Change: HIV, Migrancy and Corporate Responsibility in a South African Mining Company

Dinah Rajak, University of Sussex

This paper is concerned with the moral economy of HIV treatment in a transnational mining company. Based on fieldwork in the world’s third biggest mining company from their boardrooms in London to their mine shafts in South Africa, I explore how relations between employer and employee are being transformed as a result of corporate HIV programs, creating connections between the affective realm of sexual life and family and the political economy of global corporate capitalism.  Underlying this is the promise of a confluence of efficient business and caring corporation which combines moral imperatives with, as Mauss put it, “the cold reasoning of the business, banker or capitalist” (1967 [1925]: 73).  Yet this marriage of moral imperative to market interests, obscures the boundaries between the exigencies of capital and human care, as it ties the physical health of mineworkers to the financial health of the company. Here we find both continuity – with the regimes of colonial and apartheid-era mining and the paternalism of Victorian industrialists – and change: a corporate intervention that combines the cold, hard economics of labour productivity with the moral discourse of corporate compassion and social responsibility.  Thus, I argue that corporate social responsibility serves as a mechanism through which the company consolidates its control over its workforce, while endowing corporate purpose with moral authority.