Company brokers: Human resources managers in foreign mining projects in the Congolese Copperbelt
ABSTRACT: Based on ethnographic research between 2016 and 2018, this article examines the role
of Congolese HR managers working for the transnational companies that have developed
new mining projects in DR Congo’s copperbelt over the past two decades.
Drawing inspiration from the anthropological literature on brokerage, the analysis
proposes to study this category of middle managers as company brokers, who derive
power from their ability to control access to jobs in foreign companies and who take on
an active role in the organizational changes that new investors put in place. In developing
this line of analysis, the article’s aim is to understand how mining capitalism is
mediated from within foreign companies. In this view, mining projects are not only
negotiated by brokers in the local political arena, they are themselves co-produced by
the local workers they employ.