Matthieu Bolay

Matthieu BOLAY

Postdoctoral Researcher
Spoken languages
French, English, Spanish, Italian
Areas of expertise
  • Natural resources, extractive economies, commodities
  • Knowledge, Education and Social Policies
  • Science and technology
  • Migration and Labour
Geographical Region of Expertise
  • Subsaharan Africa


Matthieu Bolay is a postdoctoral researcher in the project Transparency: Qualities and Technologies of the Global Gemstone Industry (more information here), and a fellow of the Swiss-Subsaharan Migration Network (S-SAM).

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 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 (Switzerland, UK).

While completing his PhD, Matthieu has collaborated in other projects concerned with knowledge production, technology, labour, and mobility in water resources management (iMoMo, funded by SDC) and in international education (Edutrans, funded by SNF). Matthieu has published in peer-reviewed journals and edited books on topics including migration and mobility, extractivism, labour, valuation and expertise (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.




  • Forthcoming. West African Gold Journeys: Interstitial Labour at the Edge of a Global Extraction Network. New-York/Oxford: Bergahn [manuscript under contract].

  • (n.d.) How transparency works. Ethnographies of a global value. Edited volume in progress. [with F. Calvão, A. Golub]

Edited Special Issues

  • Forthcoming. Cosmopolitan Enclaves: Tensions and Paradoxes. Special Issue of Critique of Anthropology, 41(4). [with J. Rey, Y. Gez]

  • 2021. Dis/connection Matters: Natural, Synthetic, and Digital. Special Issue of Tsantsa - Journal of the Swiss Anthropological Association n°26 [with F. Calvão, L. Bell] Link 

Peer reviewed articles

  • Forthcoming. Labour, Incorporated: Dependent contracting, product traceability, and wageless work in Africa’s ‘responsible’ mines. Cahiers d’Etudes Africaines. [with F. Calvão]

  • 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, 164.

  • 2021. Fabricating the integrity of gold in refineries: digital visibility and divisibility. Tsantsa - Journal of the Swiss Anthropological Association, 26(1): 35-104. Link

  • 2021. Disentangling Mining and Migratory Routes in West Africa: Decisions to Move in Migranticised Settings. Social Inclusion, 9(1). Link 

  • 2021. Cobalt mining and the corporate outsourcing of responsibility in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The extractive industries and society. [with F. Calvão and C. E. A. Mcdonald] Link

  • 2021. Corporate gift or political sacrifice? Electricity provision, state-sponsored CSR and sovereignty in Guinea. Political Geography, 84:102300. [with J. Knierzinger]. Link 

  • 2020. Seeing inside the stone. Visual refractions and the apprenticeship of evaluation in the global diamond industry. Revue d'Anthropologie des Connaissances, 14(2). [with F. Calvão] Link 

  • 2020. Voir dans la pierre. Réfractions visuelles et apprentissage du métier d’évaluateur dans l'industrie globale du diamant. Revue d'Anthropologie des Connaissances, 14(2). [with F. Calvão] Link

  • 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.  [with J. Rey] Link 

  • 2020. The conceptual limits of the ‘migration journey’. De-exceptionalising mobility in the context of West African trajectories. Journal of Ethnic and Migration studies. [with J. Schapendonk & J. Dahinden] Link 

  • 2020. Les trajectoires d’insertion professionnelle des enseignants formés à l’étranger : De la précarité à la reconnaissance ? Formation et pratiques d'enseignement en questions. 27: 161-181. [with J. Rey, R. Mettraux, J. Grémaud] Link 

  • 2020. Precarious Privilege: Personal Debt, Lifestyle Aspirations and Mobility among International School Teachers. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 18(2). [with J. Rey, Y. Gez] Link 

  • 2019. Les temporalités de l’éducation internationale : pratiques et technologies de l’accélération sociale. Anthropologica, 61(1): 137-149. [with J. Rey] Link 

  • 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. [with E. Schubiger, J. Rey] Link 

  • 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. Link

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

Book chapters

  • 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. [with J. Rey, E. Schubiger] Link

  • 2017. Anthropotechnological practice and time politics in the development industry. In: Geslin, P. (Ed.) Inside Anthropotechnology: User and Culture Centered Experience. London: Wiley (Science, Society and New Technologies Series). pp. 1-26. 

  • 2017. Pratique anthropotechnologique et politiques du temps dans le contexte de l'industrie du développement. In Geslin, P. (Ed.) L'anthropotechnologie. Londres: ISTE (Collection Sciences, Société et Nouvelles Technologies). pp. 29-49. 

  • 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. Link

Other writings

  • 2020. Les limites de l’autoréglementation dans le secteur suisse de l’affinage d’or. Une analyse sous l’angle de l’initiative pour des multinationales responsables. Policy brief for [with Y. Schulz, E. Hertz] Link 

  • 2020. iMoMo. Management de l’eau. Anthropotechnology from Inside. Vol. 1. Neuchâtel : Hes-So/He Arc Ingénierie. [with P. Geslin, G. Busy] Link 

  • 2018. Reversed rushes? Expulsion as a dominant feature of gold miners’ mobility in Guinea and Mali. Short piece for Link 

  • 2013. Professionalisierung des artisanalen Goldabbaus. Formalisierung des Sektors führt zu Widersprüchen. Afrika Bulletin, 152. Link