Matthieu BOLAY

Postdoctoral Researcher
Spoken languages
French, English, Spanish, Italian
Areas of expertise
  • Natural resources, extractive economies, commodities
  • Knowledge, education and aid policies
  • Migration and Labour
Geographical Region of Expertise
  • Subsaharan Africa


Matthieu Bolay is a social anthropologist and postdoctoral researcher in the project Transparency: Qualities and Technologies of the Global Gemstone Industry.

Matthieu received his PhD Summa cum Laude from the University of Neuchâtel (2017). Before that, he was a doctoral researcher and teaching assistant at the Laboratory for transnational studies at MAPS (2012-2015) and was granted a Doc.Mobility fellowship at the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics (2015-2016). His dissertation was based upon extensive fieldwork with (mainly itinerant) artisanal gold miners and other actors of the gold industry in the transboundary extractive area spanning over Guinea, Mali, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire between 2010 and 2015.

The project investigated the logics of expulsion and incorporation at stake in the production of informal artisanal mining spaces and questioned the functional role of mobile labour in gold’s regional and global production networks. Through this, the thesis also shed lights on changing relationships to time and space and to the emergence continuous mobilities induced by the expansion and intertwining of artisanal and industrial gold mines in West-Africa.

While completing his PhD, Matthieu has collaborated in other projects on access to natural resources (iMoMo, funded by SDC) and labour mobility (Edutrans, funded by SNF). Matthieu has published in peer-reviewed journals and edited books on topics in including migration and mobility, gold extraction, Corporate Social Responsibility, development temporalities, international education (see publications below), and he is an editorial board member of Tsantsa – the Journal of the Swiss Anthropological Association. Along with his research, he was also trained as a diamond grader.



  • Bolay, M. & Knierzinger, J. (Forthcoming). Corporate gift or political sacrifice? State-sponsored CSR and electricity provision in Guinean extractive enclaves. Political Geography.

  • Bolay, M. (Forthcoming). Des réseaux aux chaînes d'approvisionnement. Économies morales et performances de moralisation dans le commerce de l'or au Mali post 2012. Politique Africaine, 160.

  • Schapendonk, J. ,Bolay, M., Dahinden, J. (2020). The conceptual limits of the ‘migration journey’. De-exceptionalising mobility in the context of West African trajectories. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. Link here.

  • Bolay, M. & Calvão, F. (2020). Voir dans la pierre. Réfractions visuelles et apprentissage du métier d’évaluateur dans l'industrie globalisée du diamant. Revue d'Anthropologie des Connaissances, 14(3). Link here.

  • Rey, J., Bolay, M., & Gez, Y. (2020). Precarious Privilege: Personal Debt, Lifestyle Aspirations and Mobility among International School Teachers. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 18(4): 361-373.

  • Bolay, M. & Rey, J. (2020). Corporate cosmopolitanism: Making an asset of diversity and mobility at Swiss international schools. ACME. An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 19(1): 106-130.

  • Bolay, M. & Rey, J. (2019). Les temporalités de l’éducation internationale : pratiques et technologies de l’accélération sociale. Anthropologica, 61(1): 137-149.

  • Schubiger, E., Rey, J., & Bolay, M. (2019). Fostering the next generation of «responsible world leaders» : the learning of corporate social responsibility in swiss international schools. Tsantsa. Journal of the Swiss Anthropological Association, 24: 99-103

  • Rey, J., Bolay, M., & Schubiger E. (2019). Généalogie de l’élève cosmopolite et marchandisation de l’international dans des établissements privés en Suisse, In A. Sieber Egger, G. Unterweger, M. Jäger, M. Kuhn, & J. Hangartner (Eds.). Kindheit(en) in formalen, nonformalen und informellen Bildungskontexten. Ethnografische Beiträge aus der Schweiz. Wiesbaden : Springer.

  • Bolay, Matthieu (2018). Reversed rushes? Expulsion as a dominant feature of gold miners’ mobility in Guinea and Mali. Short piece for the blog

  • Bolay, Matthieu (2017). Anthropotechnological practice and time politics in the development industry. In: Geslin, Philippe (Ed.) Inside Anthropotechnology: User and Culture Centered Experience.Wiley-ISTE, London. pp. 1-26

  • Bolay, Matthieu (2017). Pratique anthropotechnologique et politiques du temps dans le contexte de l'industrie du développement. Dans: Geslin, Philippe (Ed.) L'anthropotechnologie. ISTE, Londres. pp. 29-49

  • Bolay, Matthieu (2016). "Il faut être là où l'or sort!" De l'itinérance temporaire au maintien d'un mode de vie mobile chez les orpailleurs de Haute Guinée. Stichproben, Vienna Journal of African Studies, 30 (1): 111-135.

  • Bolay, Matthieu (2016). "Artisanal Gold Miners Encountering Large-Scale Mining in Guinea: Expulsion, Tolerance and Interference", in: Niederberger et al. (Ed.) "The Open Cut: Mining, Transnational Corporations and Local Populations". Zürich/Berlin: LIT Verlag, Series «Action Anthropology / Aktionsethnologie». pp. 187-204

  • Bolay, Matthieu (2014). When miners become “foreigners”: Competing categorizations within gold mining spaces in Guinea. Resources policy, 41 (3): 117-127.

  • Bolay, Matthieu (2013). "Professionalisierung des artisanalen Goldabbaus. Formalisierung des Sektors führt zu Widersprüchen". Afrika Bulletin, 152