The panel will analyse the comparative historical production of political cultures in copperbelt towns to study political expression, activities. This will provide understanding of the flow of ideas within and between the two copperbelts and their influence on political cultures.
The mining towns of Zambia and DR Congo have provided classic study sites of urban African politics for a century. But as recent studies show, assumptions about the nature of African societies often distorted understanding of the processes involved in political mobilizations. To offer new insights, this panel will focus on the comparative historical production of political cultures in copperbelt towns. Political culture is understood as a conceptual tool for studying (inductively) forms of political expression, the social organization of political activities, and the flow of political ideas within and between societies. In the case of the central African copperbelt, it may be related, among other things, to gender dynamics; claims advanced in terms of ethnic, regional, or racial identity; the militancy of workers and trade unions; conflicting projects of state-building; and/or campaigns by civil society organizations and transnational advocacy networks. The aim of the comparison between Zambia and Congo is to scrutinize the role of rural-urban connections; the place of race, class, ethnicity, and nationalism in the political imagination; the influence of booms and busts in the mining industry; and the nature of various forms of political projects and aspirations. It also aims to provide new understanding of the connections between the two copperbelts, and their influence on the formation of political cultures on both sides of the border.