“Teachers of African and world history will welcome the lucid style and topical introduction to historical issues. …Unlike the now dime-a-dozen summaries of African history, this book marshals a great deal of evidence, contains much substance, and provides some interesting perspectives. The temptation might be to consume the book at a single sitting. This would be a pity, for the tastiest morsels, in particular primary sources that relate labor experiences on colonial mines, should be savored.”
American Historical Review
“Todd Cleveland captures this long and important history in a lucid narrative that combines the big story of geopolitics and global economy with individual life stories and testimonies of representatives of the colonial states and mining companies as well as the voices of African labourers. The book is an easy read and very suitable for students, who will profit from the further reading suggestions.”
International Review of Social History
“As Cleveland’s book makes clear, a combination of high value and low volume makes the stones a destabilizing resource, and the concept of ‘blood diamonds’ has become a familiar trope in African affairs. But this concise history of the African diamond trade, which began with the discovery of a diamond in South Africa in 1867, evinces a more nuanced understanding of its impact on the continent.”
“In Stones of Contention, Cleveland (Augustana College) skillfully mines previous scholarship to provide readers with a short synthesis of the political, economic, and social history of Africa’s important diamond industry…. Summing up: recommended.”
Africa supplies the majority of the world’s diamonds, yet consumers generally know little about the origins and history of these precious stones beyond sensationalized media accounts of so-called blood diamonds.
Stones of Contention explores the major developments in the remarkable history of Africa’s diamonds, from the earliest stirrings of international interest in the continent’s mineral wealth in the first millennium A.D. to the present day. In the European colonial period, the discovery of diamonds in South Africa ushered in an era of unprecedented greed during which monopolistic enterprises exploited both the mineral resources and the indigenous workforce. In the aftermath of World War II, the governments of newly independent African states, both democratic and despotic, joined industry giant De Beers and other corporations to oversee and profit from mining activity on the continent.
The book also considers the experiences of a wide array of Africans — from informal artisanal miners, company mineworkers, and indigenous authorities to armed rebels, mining executives, and premiers of mineral-rich states — and their relationships to the stones that have the power to bring both wealth and misery. With photos and maps, Stones of Contention illustrates the scope and complexity of the African diamond trade as well as its impact on individuals and societies.
Todd Cleveland is an assistant professor of history at the University of Arkansas. He is the author of Stones of Contention and Diamonds in the Rough, as well numerous book chapters and articles on the history of diamond mining and on soccer within the former Portuguese empire in Africa. He has been a Fulbright scholar in both Angola and Ghana. More info →
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After the 1925 discovery of diamonds in the semi-desert of the northwest coast of South Africa, De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. virtually proclaimed its dominion over the whole region. In the town of Kleinzee, the company owns all the real estate and infrastructure, and controls and administers both the town and the industry.
From Accra and Algiers to Zanzibar and Zululand, Africans have wrested control of soccer from the hands of Europeans, and through the rise of different playing styles, the rituals of spectatorship, and the presence of magicians and healers, have turned soccer into a distinctively African activity. African Soccerscapes explores how Africans adopted soccer for their own reasons and on their own terms.
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