Portrays the black miners who became trade unionists and eventually independence fighters

Labor and Capital on the African Copperbelt

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Jane L. Parpart

"An indispensable contribution to the literature on class consciousness among African workers."
Sharon Stichter, African Studies Center, Boston University

How the black miner became a trade unionist and eventually an independence fighter is this book's subject. From their experiences in the Northern Rhodesian copper mines beginning in the 1920s, black miners and their families gradually developed a sense of themselves as a class of workers. Their class consciousness led them to form associations and to strike against the copper companies in 1935 and 1940.

Miners struggled for and won union representation after the war, but there were also periods in the 1950s and '60s where the companies and the government effectively neutralized labor protest. The author connects the experiences that began in the corporate environment of the mines with the eventual success of the movement for Zambia independence.

Drawing on interviews and company archives, this is an unusually rich and complete study of the complex relations among labor, capital, and the state. The interviews are especially valuable in giving the reader a sense of the daily lives of the workers, the rhythms of trade union development, and the nature of the fit between unionism and nationalist politics.


About the Author(s)

Jane L. Parpart is Assistant Professor, Fort Lewis College, and Research Associate, Centre for African Studies, Dalhousie University.

Subject Categories

Labor Studies and Work

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Class and Culture

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