Men, Mines and Masculinities: The Lives and Practices of Artisanal Miners in Lwambo (Katanga Province, DR Congo)

Citation:

Cuvelier, Jeroen. 2011. “Men, Mines and Masculinities: The Lives and Practices of Artisanal Miners in Lwambo (Katanga Province, DR Congo).” PhD Diss., Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

Author: Jeroen Cuvelier

Abstract:

This dissertation deals with the phenomenon of artisanal mining in Katanga, the southeast province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the course of the past decade, thousands of people have moved to the Katangese mining areas with the aim of finding new sources of income and developing new strategies to be able to cope with the continuing economic depression in their country. Making use of simple tools such as shovels and pickaxes, artisanal miners or creuseurs have started digging for copper and cobalt ores, which are in great demand among mineral traders and metal producers. While copper prices have been on the rise as a result of expanding infrastructure in rapidly developing countries such as China and India, cobalt prices have also boomed, largely as a result of the growing demand for cobalt-based rechargeable batteries, which are used in various electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops and camcorders. Due to the fact that, in Katanga, the artisanal mining sector constitutes a genuine male stronghold, artisanal mining is an excellent field to examine the relationship between work and masculinity. The main argument of this dissertation is that large groups of Katangese men have engaged in artisanal mining because they are eager to redefine the relationship between work and masculinity. Although, primarily, they go to the mines to earn themselves a living, they also use their stay in the mining areas to experiment with new ways of being a man. Unlike their fathers and grandfathers, who were able to prove their manhood through the performance of wage labour for one of the many companies in the region, contemporary Katangese youngsters are forced to try their luck in the informal economy. Many of them feel attracted by artisanal mining, because they believe that, in the mines, they will be able to make a lot of money within a short period of time. Moreover, they are convinced that, thanks to their work in the mines, they will be able to develop typically masculine qualities such as physical strength, bravery and technical knowledge. Thus, it can be argued that Katangese men use their stay in the mining areas to construct new masculine identities

(abstract from Ghent University Academic Bibliography)

 

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Migration, Economies, Extractive Industries, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Livelihoods Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2011

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