Mining towns, enclaves and spaces: A genealogy of worker camps in the Congolese copperbelt
ABSTRACT. At the dawn of the recent mining boom, James Ferguson has forcefully argued that new investors in Africa develop a new capital-intensive mode of production within securitized enclaves, breaking with the tradition of providing housing and social infrastructure to workers characteristic of large corporations in the 20th century. This article aims to provide a more detailed analysis of changes in mining companies' spatial government practices by retracing the genealogy of workers' camps in the Congolese copperbelt from the early 20th century to the present day. Based on archival and ethnographic research, the article draws attention to transformations in the camps' architecture and the political rationalities underlying them. What this historical exploration shows is less the emergence of a new spatial government reflecting the globalization of neoliberal capitalism than a series of gradual changes over a century that result from the adaptation of mining companies to local constraints and correspond to the development, or re-organization, of various power strategies.