A WORKinMINING Event
University of Liège, Belgium
11-13 September 2019
As international financial institutions pushed African governments to withdraw from the ownership and management of businesses in the 1980s and 1990s, across the continent governments involved in mining enterprises sold off state-owned assets to private investors. Through the boom and bust cycles of the first decades of the twenty-first century, multinationals headquartered in Europe, Canada, and Australia, Chinese state-owned enterprises, Indian and Brazilian companies, and a range of smaller companies from South Africa and beyond invested billions in existing mines and new greenfield sites.
Reflecting on the wave of privatization and foreign investment, social science scholarship from the 2000s often framed mining as enclaved production, emphasizing how companies disentangle themselves from the surrounding society and shed the social project previously associated with parastatal companies (Ferguson 2005). Later, attention turned to the work that companies perform to produce and securitise the enclave – through processes that inevitably create political and social entanglements (Appel 2012; Hönke 2010).
The focus on the enclave rightly emphasizes the power of mining companies but can elide how the entanglement of mining companies in different contexts produces a range of spaces and infrastructures, social formations and networks, while reorienting others. It also overlooks how different socio-political contexts shape mining operations. The politics of mining involves a wide range of actors and institutions including contractor companies, trade unions, regulatory bodies, courts, NGOs, and ethnic and community associations. Moreover, the micropolitics of mining plays out amidst wider socio-political changes brought by liberalization and often interacts with re-emerging politics of nationalism or government efforts to reclaim or reconfigure regulatory power.
For this workshop, the closing event of the WorkInMining project, we welcome papers exploring the micropolitics of mining that build on or go beyond our project’s own focus on the dynamics and implications of new work regimes. We see four core areas that have been undertheorised: the ways in which mining capitalism is lived, enacted and reproduced; the links between the politics of labour and other political, economic and social arenas; the (dis)connections between local experiences and national political economies; and the relationship between local mining politics and the political formation of the state. The workshop will focus on areas shaped by industrial mining since the 1990s. We envisage organising a special journal issue following the event and so will prioritise papers based on original, primarily qualitative research.
The workshop will take place from the afternoon of Wednesday, 11 September through the end of Friday, 13 September 2019. Proposed titles and paper abstracts of no more than 300 words must be sent to: email@example.com by 17 May 2019. A limited number of travel grants will be available to fund participants’ travel and accommodation, so please indicate when you apply if you would require funding to attend. Participants will be notified by early June if their proposal has been accepted. For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
To download a pdf of this call for papers, click here.