Blaming in the Boom and Bust

Greed Accusations in an Australian Coal Mining Town

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
Author: Kari Dahlgren1
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  • 1 London School of Economics and Political Science
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Abstract

In Australian mining towns like Moranbah, relationships between labour, capital and the state have long been defined by struggles over housing amidst cascading cycles of boom and bust linking global commodity markets to local real estate. Most recently, the emergence of ‘fly-in-fly-out’ labour arrangements, partially in response to rampant real estate speculation, have challenged mine workers’ rights to housing and community. Focusing on the schadenfreude that accompanied the public vilification of one failed, small-time real estate speculator as a case study who is contrasted with the figure of the Cashed-up-Bogan, this article shows how accusations of greed are mobilized to political effect. While greed's tendency to emerge discursively as an accusation might make it seem like an attractive critical discourse, its putative connections to embodiment and the visceral give it an individualizing tendency that allows it to be wielded more easily against persons than institutions, undermining broader structural critiques.

Contributor Notes

Kari Dahlgren is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her work is situated at the intersection of economic and environmental anthropology, with a particular interest in the anthropology of extractive industry, climate change and the Anthropocene. Her doctoral thesis draws on fieldwork in Australian coal mining towns and makes theoretical contributions to the Anthropocene as a lived condition critical to understanding the social complexities and political concerns underlying the energy transition.

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