Shifting Livelihoods: Gold Mining and Subsistence in the Chocó, Colombia describes the lives of people who employ various methods to extract gold in the rainforests of the Chocó: Rural Afro-Colombian artisanal miners work hillsides with hand tools or dredge mud from river bottoms. Migrant miners level the landscape with excavators, then trap gold with mercury. Canadian mining companies prospect for open-pit mega-mines. Drug traffickers launder cocaine profits by smuggling gold into Colombia and claiming it came from fictitious small-scale mines. Through an ethnography of gold that examines the movement of people, commodities, and capital, the book shows how resource extraction reshapes a place. Gold enables forms of a shifting livelihood (rebusque), a metaphor for the fluid livelihood strategy adopted by forest dwellers and migrant gold miners alike, as they seek informal work amid a drug war. Mining’s effects on rural people, corporations, and politics are on view in a fine-grained account of daily life in a regional economy dominated by gold and cocaine.

An important, accessible, beautifully written book. . . . Tubb looks at the highly significant issue of extraction from multiple angles and places it in thinkable economic, social, and cultural contexts.

– Marjo de Theije, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Through the prism of the miners, their families, and their communities, Tubb provides a nuanced, complex analysis of the concept of rebusque.

– María Clemencia Ramírez, author of Between the Guerrillas and the State: The Cocalero Movement, Citizenship, and Identity in the Colombian Amazon.

The future is not what it used to be…

New Brunswickers are hungry for hopeful stories of the future to counter the stereotype of “hard times in the Maritimes.” With the climate changing and a pandemic transforming life as we knew it, the future now seems very uncertain. But now is the time to imagine a better future. The future is created from what we imagine is possible. With the right stories to guide us, we can create a healthier, happier province, richer in the ways that matter. Letters from the Future presents a sample of these stories, written by people who care deeply about New Brunswick

The stories detail the hopes and aspirations of New Brunswickers from different backgrounds and different parts of the province. The hopes are for a more equitable New Brunswick, a home where sustainable farming and fishing flourish, where food is secure, where our rural communities, towns and cities are vibrant, where natural resources are used wisely and sustainably, where governance is democratic, and where public projects are community-focused, innovative, and change life for the better. The future our authors envision feature sustainable livelihoods in thriving communities.

Our authors transported themselves to the distant and not-so-distant future and describe what it took to get us there. Our letters dream about what New Brunswick could become if we seize the opportunity to create the province we want to live in—a New Brunswick that confronts climate change and achieves its goal of sustainable living, and a province that helps effectively address the environmental, economic, social justice, human rights, and public health challenges we are currently experiencing.

Each letter offers a different aspect of a possible future. The power of speculative nonfiction reveals what is possible, showing alternatives not yet realized. Dystopic nightmares need not come to pass—although several authors write about such conditions. The fact that New Brunswickers are now beginning some of the great changes envisioned in these letters illustrate that our creative speculations are based on what is achievable in the future.  – from the Preface


Daniel Tubb is an environmental anthropologist at the University of New Brunswick. He lives in Gagetown.

Abram Lutes, originally from Woodstock, is a graduate student at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Susan O’Donnell is a researcher, writer and activist and lead investigator of the RAVEN project at the University of New Brunswick.

About the Illustrator

​Ian Smith is a grandfather, Outward Bound Canada Instructor, retired Parks NB Program Manager, outdoor educator, and artist. He lives near Harvey Station.