Filipe Calvão


Spoken languages
English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Areas of expertise
  • Natural resources, extractive economies, commodities
  • Financial markets
  • Corporate responsibility
  • Postcolonial State
  • Materiality, Labor, Capital
  • Transparency, surveillance, secrecy
  • Human security and violence in postcolonial Africa
  • Digital labor, crypto-mining, digital economies
Geographical Region of Expertise
  • Sub-Saharan Africa



PhD, University of Chicago

Filipe Calvão joined the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in 2013. As a socio-cultural anthropologist, his research lies at the intersection between nature, culture and capital in postcolonial Africa, with a focus on extractive economies, mining labor and corporate governance. In his published work, he examines the social and cultural relations binding mining communities and corporations, the materiality of minerals and labor in the global south.  He has taught on global extractive networks, the anthropology of corporations, illicit economies, secrecy and surveillance, work and labor, and social theory.

He is a faculty associate of the Institute’s  Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy and the Centre for International Environmental Studies and he is currently leading three research projects:

  • The first project looks at the technologies and qualities of transparency in the global mining industry to understand how transparency is assessed, enacted and regimented across the lifespan of minerals and metals, as well as the discursive and regulatory practices enabling the production and trade of precious minerals and metals on a global scale. More information about this project can be found here.
  • The second project examines the impact of digital work and automation in the global south, from blockchain technology to ride-sharing apps, to inform debates on automation, computerisation and non-standard forms of work. Further information on this project is available here.
  • The third project explores the emergent relationship entangling synthetic and natural objects, humans and machines, material and digital spaces to understand the role of humans and non-human nature in increasingly synthetic, automated, and digital mining economies. More information about this project can be found here.




  • Ritual Capital: The rough and the cut in Angola’s diamond mines, manuscript in progress.
  • The Anthropology of Transparency (edited volume), manuscript in progress.

Peer-reviewed articles

  • 2022. “Labour, Incorporated: Dependent Contracting and Wageless Work in Africa’s ‘Responsable’ Mines.” Cahiers d’etudes Africaines 245-246, 123-151 (with M. Bolay)
  • 2020. Mythical Islands of Value: Free Ports, Offshore Capitalism, and Art Capital 9(4), 100. (with Erik Post)
  • 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 [Seeing inside the stone. Visual refractions and the apprenticeship of evaluation in the global diamond industry.]  (w/ M. Bolay)
  •  2020. Avenirs et enjeux de l’automatisation et du travail numérique en Inde.
    Alternatives Sud, Vol. 27, Nº. 1, 2020 [with K. Tara]
  • 2019 “Crypto-Miners: Digital Labor and the Power of Blockchain Technology,” Economic Anthropology, 6 (1).
  • 2019 “Working Futures: ILO, Automation, and Digital Work in India,” International Development Policy / Revue internationale de politique de développement (w/ Kaveri Haritas)
  • 2017 “The Company Oracle: Corporate Security and Diviner-Detectives in Angola’s Diamond Mines,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 59 (3), pp. 574-599
  • 2016 “Unfree Labor,” Annual Review of Anthropology, 45, pp. 451-467
  • 2013 “The Transporter, the Agitator, and the Kamanguista: Qualia and the in/visible Materiality of Diamonds,” Anthropological Theory, 13 (1/2), pp. 119-136

Book Chapters

  • 2020 “Transparent Minerals and Opaque Diamond Origins”, in Walsh, Andrew and Elizabeth Ferry (ed.), Anthropology of Precious Minerals, Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • 2015 “Diamonds, Machines, and Colors: Moving Materials in Ritual Exchange” in
  • Kuechler, Susanne and Adam Drazin (ed.), The Social Life of Materials: Studies in Materials and Society, Bloomsbury Academic.
  • 2011 “When boom goes bust: Ruins, Crisis and Security in Megaengineering Diamond Mines in Angola” in Brunn, Stan (ed.) Engineering Earth, Springer.


Filipe Calvão

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