As the key component in aluminum production, bauxite became one of the most important minerals of the last one hundred years. But around the world its effects on people and economies varied broadly – for some it meant jobs, progress, or a political advantage over rival nations, but for many others, it meant exploitation, pollution, or the destruction of a way of life.
Aluminum Ore explores the often overlooked history of bauxite in the twentieth century, and in doing so examines the social, political, and economic forces that shaped the time. Its development became a strategic industry during the First World War, and then the subject of international struggle for dominance during the Second World War. Yet in post-war years it was globalization, not military conquest, that expanded global value chains. The extraction of bauxite – a mineral found mostly in the developing world – was made profitable by the growth of multinational corporations and the spread of globalization, leaving behind a troubled cultural and environmental legacy.
In this wide-ranging collection, scholars from around the world consider multiple perspectives on this history – from Guinea to Nazi Germany to Jamaica – all while examining the central place of one commodity in a time of change.
Aluminum Ore will appeal to specialists in the areas of resource extraction, globalization, economic and political history, as well as general readers with an interest in resource development in the twentieth century.
Introduction: Opening Pandora’s Bauxite: A Raw Materials Perspective on Globalization Processes in the Twentieth Century / Mats Ingulstad, Espen Storli, and Robin S. Gendron
1 The Global Race for Bauxite, 1900-40 / Espen Storli
2 “Of the Highest Imperial Importance”: British Strategic Priorities and the Politics of Colonial Bauxite, ca. 1916–ca. 1958 / Andrew Perchard
3 Nazi Germany’s Pursuit of Bauxite and Alumina / Hans Otto Frøland
4 National Security Business? The United States and the Creation of the Jamaican Bauxite Industry / Mats Ingulstad
5 The Soviet Union’s “Bauxite Problem” / Stephen Fortescue
6 “Greece Has Been Endowed by Nature with This Precious Material”: The Economic History of Bauxite in the European Periphery, 1920s-70s / Leda Papastefanaki7 The Volta River Project and Decolonization, 1945-57: The Rise and Fall of an Integrated Aluminum Project / Jon Olav Hove
8 Canada and the Nationalization of Alcan’s Bauxite Operations in Guinea and Guyana / Robin S. Gendron
9 Transnational Restructuring and the Jamaican Bauxite Industry: The Swinging Pendulum of Bargaining Power / Lou Anne Barclay and Norman Girvan
10 Issues of Governance, Liberalization, Policy Space, and the Challenges of Development: Reflections from the Guinean Bauxite-Aluminum Sector / Bonnie Campbell
11 White Metal: Bauxite, Labour, and the Land under Alcan in Twentieth-Century Guyana, Jamaica, and Australia / Bradley Cross
12 Battles over Bauxite in East India: The Khondalite Mountains of Khondistan / Samarendra Das and Felix Padel
13 Success without Bauxite: Norsk Hydro’s Long Wait to Achieve Backward Integration / Pål Thonstad Sandvik
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