Strangers and Sierra Leone Mining: Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development Challenges

Document Type


Publication Date



Sierra Leone, Landlord–strangers, Cultural heritage, Mining communities, Sustainable development

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



The Sustainable Development Framework (SDF) adopted by the International Council on Metals and Minerals (ICMM) represents a major step in the mineral industry's quest to respect cultural heritage and promote community development in host communities for sustainable and conflict-free mining. Using Sierra Leone, West Africa, as a case study, textual analysis of relevant state policies and laws and other pertinent documents, this paper reveals the inherent conflicts between centuries-old customary conceptions of land use and management practices—specifically, the landlord–stranger cultural institution—and modern, largely western, conceptions of land use by multinational mining companies and the national government. The inability of government to formulate, and implement a cultural heritage friendly land and mining policy has led to recurrent conflict and militates against sustainable community development. The mining multinational corporation, the embodiment of the powerful stranger, usurps customary land rights through state-level legal statutes and mining policy, and this has created the stranger hegemony phenomenon. The paper also argues the colonial and postcolonial state has been complicit in reconfiguring landlord–stranger relationships in mining areas. The study reveals that the stranger presence in mining areas has become an entrenched problem exacerbated by power imbalances embedded in statutory laws. The findings enable an understanding of the complexities of meeting social sustainability goals on cultural heritage and community development as articulated by the ICMM. Rectifying these imbalances call for more culturally sensitive policy and legal reforms.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Cleaner Production, v. 84, p. 773-782