Professor of Sociology Dunbar Moodie will discuss the history of mining on the Witwatersrand at the annual International Mining History Congress in Johannesburg.
Moodie has conducted extensive research on the topic and authored the book “Going for Gold: Men, Mines and Migration.” In 2011, he spent his sabbatical in Johannesburg, where he served as the Claude Leon Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand and worked on two independent projects pertaining to mining. The university’s Society, Work and Development Institute held a two-day mining symposium in his honor, during which Moodie delivered the event’s keynote address.
An article about the upcoming conference appeared in MiningWeekly.com, and noted Moodie’s participation.
A native of Cape Town, South Africa, Moodie came to the Colleges in 1976. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Rhodes University, a M.A. from Oxford University, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He has previously received awards from numerous foundations, including Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
The full article follows.
The City of Gold to host mining history conference
Jade Davenport • April 6, 2012
From April 17 to 20, Johannesburg will host the ninth annual International Mining History Congress (IMHC), the aim of which is to bring together practitioners of mining history in all its forms in order to exchange recent research findings.
Interestingly, this will be the first time that the congress will assemble in Africa and I am sure that many South African mining history aficionados, like myself, are looking forward to this event with much enthusiasm.
It is quite fitting that South Africa, the stalwart of Africa’s mining industry, is hosting such a conference, considering that the world is increasingly relying on the continent’s mineral wealth. In fact, Africa is currently at the centre of what can only be considered the ‘new scramble’ for mineral resources by the burgeoning Asian superpowers – the new scramble being likened to the ‘Scramble for Africa’, which was the process of invasion, occupation, colonisation and annexation of African territory by European powers between 1881 and 1914. In that context, it is appropriate that the world learns more about the history of Africa’s mining industry, which, from its precolonial past to its postcolonial present, has moved away from European practices in some instances and also has much in common with Europe.
More importantly, South Africa’s mining industry has a rich, colourful and, in some part, controversial history. It is a history that has fascinated academics and historians alike for more than a century, and dozens of books and hundreds of journal papers and articles have been devoted to elaborating on this particular aspect of South Africa’s economy and heritage.
While there may be an abundance of published material on some aspects of the mining sector, particularly relating to the history of Kimberley and Johannesburg and their respective diamond and gold industries, as well as relating to the lives of the country’s earliest mining magnates, there is a significant dearth of information on the histories of the other mining sectors and related subjects. In particular, there is an absence of comprehensive histories relating to the coal, copper, platinum and uranium sectors (to name but a few of the commodities mined in South Africa) and there is also a lack of information regarding subjects such as the precolonial exploitation of metals and minerals, mining and apartheid, the sociological aspects of labour, the progression of health and safety standards and the personal stories of the mineworkers who make the exploitation of mineral wealth possible.
While it is not possible for a three-day conference to thoroughly address all such topics, it is expected that the IMHC will at least go some way to shedding light on these subjects.
The congress has an eclectic group of sponsors, including the Chamber of Mines, the National Union of Mineworkers, the universities of Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand, Anglo American Platinum, the Oppenheimer Trust, the City of Johannesburg, the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation.
An impressive total of 82 papers are expected to be delivered at this year’s IMHC, which will be presented by academics, amateur his- torians, present and former employees of the mining industry, government officials, and conservationist curators from 18 countries around the world.
A variety of themes will be covered in the papers that will be presented, ranging from preserving and popularising mining history and mining memoirs to women in mining, the cultural history of labour and the experiences of mineworkers and managers. Other themes to be addressed include mining archaeology, advancing the history of geology, mining and the environment, mining in decline, small-scale and illegal mining, mining and community development, changing investment patterns in mining, finance, ownership and development of the mining industry and health and safety in mining.
The two keynote addresses will be delivered by Professor Stefan Berger, of the Ruhr University, in Germany, and Professor Dunbar Moodie, of Hobart College and William Smith College, in the US. Berger is expected to speak on The Ten Most Important Dates in International Mining History, while Moodie, author of the book Going for Gold: Men, Mines and Migration, will discuss the history of mining on the Witwatersrand.
The topics of the plenary sessions include Nationalisation and the Control of Mining: Lessons from the Past, and Mining, the Environment and the Future of Humanity. The first topic will certainly prove most interesting for South African delegates, given the country’s recent nationalisation debate.
Indeed, the IMHC will be the highlight of the year for most mining history enthusiasts and the congress will, no doubt, contribute significantly to expanding and enriching the narrative of what is already a most fascinating mining history.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
In the photo above General Secretary of the African National Congress Gwede Mantashe, University of Witwatersrand Professor Eddie Webster, and HWS Professor of Sociology T. Dunbar Moodie gather for a photo following Moodie’s talk, “Revisiting Social Movement Unionism: the Case of the National Union of Mineworkers,” in Johannesburg, South Africa.