“This meticulous study is a must read for scholars and graduate students interested in African labor history and Portuguese colonialism. Those with an interest in (diamond) mining will take away as much as those reading for information on forced labor or on the interplay between the Portuguese colonial state and concessional companies. However, those keen to learn about the rich texture of workers’ experiences, both on and o the mine, stand to gain the most.”
“Diamonds in the Rough is a significant contribution to Angolan historiography and to the literature on mining on the continent. Cleveland persuasively argues that laborers on Angolan mines were active participants in shaping the stable conditions that made Diamang profitable, and, ironically, helped further the Portuguese regime in Angola.”
Marissa Moorman, author of Intonations: A Social History of Music and Nation in Luanda, Angola, from 1945 to Recent Times
“[Cleveland] is particularly strong on African workers’ experiences and perceptions of the mines and its Janus-faced character: getting well paid while being exploited. … [Diamonds in the Rough] is balanced, showing that there are no facile answers and the Appendix, entitled “Digging Deeper,” contains useful discussion questions and suggestions for further reading, all of which enhances its quality for the educated layperson and its obvious audience, students.”
International Journal of African Historical Studies
“[Cleveland] appropriately and generously acknowledges the many people who shepherded him through these challenge, but, in the end, his own patience and determination were crucial for the appearance of this remarkable work.”
Journal of Interdisciplinary History
Diamonds in the Rough explores the lives of African laborers on Angola’s diamond mines from the commencement of operations in 1917 to the colony’s independence from Portugal in 1975. The mines were owned and operated by the Diamond Company of Angola, or Diamang, which enjoyed exclusive mining and labor concessions granted by the colonial government. Through these monopolies, the company became the most profitable enterprise in Portugal’s African empire. After a tumultuous initial period, the company’s mines and mining encampments experienced a remarkable degree of stability, in striking contrast to the labor unrest and ethnic conflicts that flared in other regions. Even during the Angolan war for independence (1961–75), Diamang’s zone of influence remained comparatively untroubled.
Todd Cleveland explains that this unparalleled level of quietude was a product of three factors: African workers’ high levels of social and occupational commitment, or “professionalism”; the extreme isolation of the mining installations; and efforts by Diamang to attract and retain scarce laborers through a calculated paternalism. The company’s offer of decent accommodations and recreational activities, as well as the presence of women and children, induced reciprocal behavior on the part of the miners, a professionalism that pervaded both the social and the workplace environments. This disparity between the harshness of the colonial labor regime elsewhere and the relatively agreeable conditions and attendant professionalism of employees at Diamang opens up new ways of thinking about how Africans in colonial contexts engaged with forced labor, mining capital, and ultimately, each other.
Todd Cleveland is associate professor of history at the University of Arkansas. His books include these Ohio University Press titles: Sports in Africa, Past and Present (2020), Following the Ball: The Migration of African Soccer Players across the Portuguese Colonial Empire, 1949–1975 (2018), Diamonds in the Rough: Corporate Paternalism and African Professionalism on the Mines of Colonial Angola, 1917–1975 (2015), and Stones of Contention: A History of Africa’s Diamonds (2014). More info →
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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.
With Following the Ball, Todd Cleveland incorporates labor, sport, diasporic, and imperial history to examine the extraordinary experiences of African football players from Portugal’s African colonies as they relocated to the metropole from 1949 until the conclusion of the colonial era in 1975. The backdrop was Portugal’s increasingly embattled Estado Novo regime, and its attendant use of the players as propaganda to communicate the supposed unity of the metropole and the colonies.Clev
The Marikana Massacre of August 16, 2012, was the single most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since the end of apartheid. Those killed were mineworkers in support of a pay raise.
Dams, Displacement, and the Delusion of Development
Cahora Bassa and Its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965–2007
By Allen F. Isaacman and Barbara S. Isaacman
This in-depth study of the Zambezi River Valley examines the dominant developmentalist narrative that has surrounded the Cahora Bassa Dam, chronicles the continual violence that has accompanied its existence, and gives voice to previously unheard narratives of forced labor, displacement, and historical and contemporary life in the dam’s shadow.
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