"Ain’t I a bastard, well I received my training in Aussie”: the life of Frank Maybank, an Australian trade unionist in Central Africa

This article by Duncan Money examines the working life of Frank Maybank (1901-94), a self-described Australian trade unionist on the Central African Copperbelt. Maybank was in many ways a worker of the world, he lived and worked in several countries and did all manner of jobs. The job he held the longest was General Secretary of the whites-only mineworkers’ union on the Copperbelt, where his militancy was closely informed by his experiences in, and contacts with, the Australian labour movement. This article uses Maybank’s biography both to show the transnational connections that existed and to argue that the relative weakness of those connections allowed information about different places to be misrepresented. What this article terms “strategic misunderstandings” allowed distant events and movements to be misrepresented to suit domestic audiences and concerns in Australia and on the Copperbelt. In addition, this paper reflects on how the practice of writing transnational history and how the uneven nature of digitised sources may shape the development of this sub-field.

This article was published in Labour History, Volume 122, Issue 1, Liverpool University Press (2022), 

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Author(s) / editor(s)

Duncan Money

Date, time and location

01 May 2022

About the author(s) / editor(s)

Duncan Money is a historian of Central and Southern Africa during the 19th and 20th century. His research focuses primarily on the mining industry and, in particular, the Zambian Copperbelt. Duncan’s main interests are in labour, race and global history, specifically the ways in which the mining industry connected seemingly disparate and distant places across the globe and the consequences that emanated from this. Alongside his research, Duncan Money manages a project to preserve and digitise the archives of the Mineworkers’ Union of Zambia.

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