This book is the result of the collective research project ‘Reinventing paternalism. The micropolitics of work in the mining companies of Central Africa’ (WORKinMINING) at the University of Liège, Belgium. Generous funding of the European Research Council (ERC) through a Consolidator Grant in 2014 gave us, the contributors to this book, the opportunity to carry out multiple research stays in the mining sites and towns described in the book, as well as sufficient time to reflect on what we had learned. As the project’s principal investigator and the editor of this book, I also received a professorship from the Francqui Foundation, which allowed me to devote myself to the research from 2015 to 2018.
This research would not have been possible without the support of the University of Lubumbashi (UNILU) in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Copperbelt University (CBU) in Zambia. Professors Donatien Dibwe, from UNILU, and John Lungu, from CBU, in particular, provided intellectual inspiration as giants in the study of mining in the two copperbelts and spared no effort to help us obtain the necessary authorisations, get our research started, and organise research seminars in Congo and Zambia. We express here our thanks to both of them as well as to Professor Owen Sichone at CBU for their hospitality, support and guidance. In both countries, we owe a great debt of gratitude to those who enabled us to conduct research internships in different trade unions and mining companies, which we cannot name here for confidentiality reasons. We also thank all those who welcomed us to seminars, events and trainings that further enriched our knowledge of the mining sector.
More than 600 people in Congo and Zambia participated in this research, making it impossible to name them all here, even aside from our funder’s confidentiality requirements. We would like to thank the many people who welcomed us into their workplaces, homes and social spaces and took the time to answer our questions with great patience. Above and below ground, mineworkers, safety officers, trade unionists, managers, and so many others helped guide our understandings of the micropolitics of work. We would also like to thank those whose knowledge of the mining sector, friendship, and help with introductions encouraged us to ask new questions and re-engage long-standing debates: in particular, Jerry Kalonji, Jean-Paul Lokadja, Luc Mukendi, Paul Mpoyo, Vicky Mukews, Pascal Tshibamb and Bourgeois Tshibangu in Congo; and in Zambia, John Bwalya, Hikabwa Chipande, Marja Hinfelaar, Wisdom Kaleng’a, Robby Kapesa, Yewa Kumwenda, Charles Muchimba, and Limbisani Tembo. We also thank the trade unionists, HR managers, scholars and others who attended our seminars in Kitwe and Lumbumbashi. Their critiques and questions pushed us to improve our arguments and refine our writing.
Besides residents of Congo and Zambia, we benefited from the assistance of other scholars doing research in the Central African Copperbelt. Most of them are members of the Copperbelt research network launched at the beginning of the project; our thanks go to Patience Mususa for organising the initial workshop that brought so many of us together. We thank Miles Larmer, who started a complementary research project on the two copperbelts at the same time; he has been a generous colleague and a linchpin in the Copperbelt network. We are also grateful to Stephanie Laemmert, Sarah Katz-Lavigne, Duncan Money, and Iva Pesa. Finally, our deep gratitude goes to Michel Naepels, our project’s ethics advisor, for his sincere and benevolent interest in our research. We also warmly thank the two reviewers for their attentive reading of the first version of this manuscript. Their relevant and constructive critiques and suggestions enabled us to improve the quality of the book.