Destructive care

Emotional engagements in mining narratives


  • Anna Varfolomeeva School of Advanced Studies, University of Tyumen



There is a growing awareness of the essential similarities between care and maintenance notions in more-than-human settings. Whereas the concept of care is increasingly extended towards non-living organisms, research on maintenance and repair still focuses mainly on technologies and infrastructures. This article extends the realm of maintenance theorizing towards humans' caretaking activities and discusses the concepts' parallels. It focuses on the case study of Veps ethnic minority in Karelia, Northwestern Russia. Since the 18th century, Veps have been extracting rare ornamental stones: gabbro-diabase and raspberry quartzite. The article demonstrates that Veps workers engage in close bodily and material interactions with the mining industry. Whereas many of them enter into affective relations with the stone, their attitudes towards their bodies and health become estranged and detached. The article introduces the concept of "destructive care" to analyze the process of the workers' growing alienation from their bodily needs. Through the Veps' example, the article demonstrates that the logics of care and maintenance become entangled in the realm of human – material co-existence.


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