Workshop: Gaping Holes: Towards multi-species histories and ethnographies of mining in southern Africa

'The Big Hole' in Kimberley, South Africa. Photo credits: Jan-Bart Gewald.

This event will take place physically in Leiden. The preliminary programme can be found here.

Histories and ethnographies of mining in southern Africa have tended to concentrate on the issues of labour and capital. The rich ethnographic work of the Manchester School in Zambia, and the fractious race and class debates that dominated South African history in the 1980s are two examples in point. Of late studies have emerged that seek to go beyond these debates, and have sought to situate human societies and mining in terms of their environmental context and impact. The workshop organizers, whilst recognising and accepting this work, wish to go further. Drawing on Lovelock they explicitly acknowledge the symbiotic interconnected nature of the world, and call for contributions that recognise this, decentre the human, and seek to investigate mining in southern Africa from a multi-species perspective.

Bearing the above in mind, the workshop organisers call for contributions that acknowledge and take into account the role of animals, plants, geology and geography as Actants, in the history of mining in southern Africa. That is, papers that actively attempt to decentre the human from history, and concentrate instead on the hidden and obscured histories of others without whom human history would not have been possible. By its very nature such contributions will draw on multiple disciplines.

Read the preliminary programme.

Register for this event by sending an email to

This event is supported financially by LeidenASA (postponed event in the context of Africa 2020).

Date, time and location

01 June 2022 to 03 June 2022
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
See the programme