Francesca Pugliese, Working experience in the Congolese mining sector

Francesca Pugliese is currently working in the ERC-funded WORKINMINING project ( as a PhD student in Social Anthropology at the University of Liège and in History at Leiden University (Graduate Programme African Studies).

The WORKINMINING project is a collective and comparative research project dealing with the micropolitics of work in the mining sector of the Congolese and Zambian Copperbelt. Francesca's subproject focuses on the employees of the transnational mining companies in the Copperbelt region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, an area marked by the strong legacy of industrial paternalism. She is interested in studying the multiple dimensions of the work experience, the implications for the intimate life of the workers and gender and generational dynamics. More specifically, her research focuses on the perspectives of Congolese workers and their social and cultural responses to the changes brought about by the recent boom in the mining industry. Different categories of male and female Congolese workers – executive, skilled, and unskilled workers – and their families are taken into consideration in order to understand how they cope with management practices and discourses within the new transnational mining companies. Overall, her project studies the historical, economic and social impact of mining companies’ activities and macro-economic developments in Africa from a bottom-up perspective.

During 2017 and 2018, she carried out fieldwork of around one year in different contexts and mining sites in the Haut Katanga province. She conducted her research both in the workplace and in private settings. In order to experience the everyday life of the workers, she did two research internships in different departments of two mining companies observing and discussing the tasks of the mine employees and the relationships with the colleagues and the supervisors. As for the gender and generational issues, she lived for two months in a mining camp with Congolese workers and their families and two months in two mining camps with expat employees. In these contexts, she observed the private life of the workers in its interrelation with their professional life. At the moment, she is in the process of writing her PhD dissertation.


Researcher supervising: 
Other supervisor(s): 
Professor Benjamin Rubbers, University of Li├Ęge
Project status: