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Subsidising Extraction: Care at Work in Zambia's Copper Mines

  • Lochery, Emma
  • Mc Namara, Thomas
  • Musonda, James
Publication Date
Feb 04, 2024
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peer reviewed / This article explores the ambivalence of care and its role in sustaining capitalist extraction in Zambia's copper mines. Based on ethnographic research within mines and their encompassing communities, the article documents the caring practices of mineworkers and attempts of trade unionists and managerial staff to counsel and support mineworkers as they navigate exploitative employment conditions. These acts of care are often unacknowledged or trivialised by corporate discourses and top company management. Yet, they are pivotal in maintaining and repairing fragile labour relations and, thereby, production. The article explores the way acts of care support workers but, at the same time, reassert the power of the company and the inevitability of exploitation. Following the deconstruction of paternalist welfare systems in the mining sector, neoliberal investments are buttressed by these caring practices and the wider set of relationships they mobilise within the labour force and the broader community. These acts of care thus subsidise the extraction of Zambia's mineral resources.

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