Although largely overlooked in the recent literature, labour provides a useful entry point to study the connections and disruptions brought by mining capitalism. This panel aims to offer fresh insights on mining in Africa by studying labour in this sector in a historical and comparative perspective.
With a few exceptions, labour has been largely overlooked in the literature on the last mining boom in Africa. Following up the CRG panel on Labour markets in the extractive industries at ECAS 2017, and taking advantage of an incessantly growing interest on mineral production in Africa, we want to push the reflection on labour and capital further. From an analytical perspective, we believe labour provides a fruitful entry point to study the connections and disruptions brought about by mining capitalism. Connections emerge through the integration of African mineral production in global networks, while disruptions follow boom and bust cycles in mining. Both have severe implications for labour, as well as the relation between labour and capital. Papers proposed for this panel may address one of the following questions: 1) Who controls labour? How are new labour policies put in place? How are they different from those of the past? 2) How is the labour market organized? How can we understand mineral production within African labour markets in general? What is the role of formal and informal labour? 3) How are changes in the domain of labour related to structural changes in global capitalism? What are the differences in this respect between, for example, gold, copper, or platinum mining? The aim of this panel is to offer fresh insights on mining in Africa by studying labour and capital in a historical and comparative perspective.