Mediators, contract men, and colonial capital. mechanized gold mining in the Gold Coast Colony, 1879-1909
University of Rochester Press
Place of Publication
Rochester studies in African history and the diaspora
Rochester Studies in African History and the Diaspora, African Studies, Modern History, Politics & Economics
An innovative study of labor relations, particularly the interactions of recruitment agents and migrant workers, in the mining concessions of Wassa, Gold Coast Colony, 1879 to 1909. Recent years have seen renewed interest in the historical study of labor in Africa. Unlike those of the past, these new studies are rooted in the recognition of Africa's dynamic, expansive, and productive informal sector. While this book focuses on one of West Africa's earliest large-scale industries, namely the Wassa gold mines in the southwest Gold Coast, it is not solely concerned with the traditional working class. Rather, it explores the plurality of labor relations that characterized the mining concessions during the period 1879 to 1909, including the presence of migrants from various parts of West Africa as well as casual and tributary laborers, both male and female. In capturing the phenomenon of labor mobility as it played out in Wassa, Mediators, Contract Men, and Colonial Capital presents one of the fullest accounts of the labor agents who regularly brought groups of migrant laborers to the mines. The narrative discusses these agents' means of employment and roles in the informalization and indentureship of labor; in addition, it explores the regional dynamics of the recruitment machinery and confronts issues of coercion and choice. Scholars interested in African history, global labor history, economic history, and women's work in Africa will find much of value in this innovative study.