CfP: Making visible the invisible: African women in mining

Call for papers, deadline 10 April 2017


Deadline for submission of abstracts: 10 April 2017

Notification of acceptance: 30 April 2017

Deadline for submission of full papers: 15 September 2017


We would like to invite scholars working on Women in Mining across Africa (broadly) to contribute to an edited book volume which aims to focus on contributions (through labour and otherwise) and roles (through social reproduction or resistance struggles) played by African women in mining/extractive industries.

African mining historiography has largely erased or silenced women and neglected their contribution in mining. In this literature and popular culture, mineworkers are almost always seen as men, as though mines are, and have always been, inhabited by men (Lahiri-Dutt 2006; Blomberg 2006). This is despite evidence from as early as the 1600s which shows women as ‘pit people’.[1] Scholarship which acknowledges women’s[2] presence tends to portray women as outsiders who inhabit the ‘peripheries’ of mining and hardly as ‘centres’ or key players in their own right.

The objective of this book project is to address this historical gap and contemporary bias by revisiting and interrogating, with a gender lens, the current contributions of women in mining and the historiography of mining in Africa. This edited book is a way of re-claiming “her-story” and re-insert it into ‘hi-story’ of mining, to recover and resurrect women’s voices, centre their role and attest to their presence and make visible their contributions in mining.

In this edited collection, the focus will mainly be on work, broadly defined. Using a feminist theoretical lens, we want to centre women’s experiences. The gaps we seek to address include; the roles currently played by women who work in mining (underground, open cast, artisanal and alluvial mines). The invisible social reproduction work done by women in mining communities. We are also interested in chapters that revisit and critically re-examine archival material, and insert African women in the dominant mining historiography which currently excludes and or marginalises them.

Some of the question we hope papers submitted will address include, but not limited to; what role have women played in mining in Africa, in what ways have their contributions been undermined? What, if anything, does broadening the definition of ‘work’ illuminate about women’s role in mining? In what ways has femininity or female-ness been used to silence and side-line women and make invisible their contributions in mining? In countries where females were forbidden from mines, how did they respond? How were legislative orders banning women from mining negotiated to enable women to participate in mining- even “illegally”? If gender in important in mining, as demonstrated by the masculine historiography, how are gendered identities constructed and what about mining makes possible the valorisation of masculinities while femininities are undermined? How do women who are currently working in the mines see themselves? In what ways can we centre and appreciate multiple femininities and move beyond the binary notions of gender when looking at women/female mineworkers?

Authors who are interested in submitting a paper should, in the first instance, send a short abstract-length proposal (not more than 500 words) to Asanda Benya ( ) outlining the scope of their paper and its novelty by the 10th of April 2017. General inquiries can also be directed to this address.

[1] See drawings in Agricola 1556; Munby diaries 1828-1910; John 1980; Lahiri-Dutt & Macintyre, 2006; Gier & Mercier, 2006; McCulloch 2010.

[2] Women in this research includes cis-trans, queer and straight women.