Global History of Copper

My research on copper mining in Zambia made it apparent to me that there were a wide array of similarities between the Copperbelt and other copper mining regions around the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and many connections between them. I have become increasingly interested in the ways the mining industry connected distant and disparate places around the world, and in the relationship between those connections and the emergence of such striking similarities in different mining regions.

This interest informs a project looking at a global history of copper, and an edited volume on this topic will hopefully by published in 2021, co-edited by Robrecht Declerq and Hans-Otto Frøland, who came to the same conclusions about the global dimensions of the copper industry.

The edited volume is based on a workshop titled, imaginatively, A Global History of Copper that took place at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in August 2019. The workshop programme gives an idea of the book’s contents.

My chapter in the book looks at the role of American mining engineers in shaping similarities between copper mining regions, particularly in relation to the spread of racialised labour management practices. This research was supported by a fellowship at the Huntington Library in 2018.

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