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Drawing on ethnographic work conducted underground, this chapter explores the relationship among nature, labor, and individual subject formation. Irreverently borrowing from Karl Marx’s theory of consciousness, the chapter suggests that the site of labor is not only a crucible of formation but also ground zero for hierarchically ordering people and rocks along related axes of value. It argues that tin’s mineralogical variation—both that which occurs “naturally” and that which has been produced by a century’s worth of extraction—crystallizes raced and gendered hierarchies among miners. Minerals and miners are relationally valued in ways that shift not only spatially but also temporally, a point that is emphasized by using the concepts of formation and degradation to explore the connective tissues between geological and fleshy matters.

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