Born with a Copper Spoon
368 pages, 6 x 9
17 tables, 16 charts, 4 b&w photos, 2 maps
Release Date:01 Aug 2023
Release Date:15 Nov 2022
Release Date:15 Nov 2022

Born with a Copper Spoon

A Global History of Copper, 1830–1980

UBC Press

Born with a Copper Spoon examines how the metal has been produced, distributed, controlled, and sold around the globe.

Over the past two centuries, industrial societies hungry for the highly conductive, corrosion-resistant metal – essential for light, power, and communication – have demanded ever-increasing quantities of copper. From copper cartels and the futures market to the consequences of resource nationalism, Born with a Copper Spoon has a global scope. However, this is not simply a narrative of ever-increasing and deepening global connections. It is also about periods of deglobalization, fragmentation, and attempts to sever connections, as was the case in the mid-twentieth century, when a bitter contest over ownership of mineral resources briefly threatened to cause a major realignment of the world economy. Throughout history, copper production has spawned its own practices, technologies, and a constantly changing political economy. Large-scale production has affected ecologies, states, and companies, while creating and even destroying local communities dependent on volatile commodity markets. The first president of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, once remarked that Zambians were “born with a copper spoon in our mouths,” but few societies managed to profit from copper’s abundance.

Contributors to this far-reaching collection cover the finance, technology, labour, business, politics, and environmental impact of one of the world’s most important metals.

This work will find a worldwide audience of historians, political scientists, scholars of conflict and development studies, and stakeholders involved in natural resource management and the international commodity trade.

Almost every specialist on the history of copper appears in this volume, creating a comprehensive and useful account of modern copper history. Joshua Specht, History, University of Notre Dame
Born with a Copper Spoon tells a story of fundamental importance to understanding the world system that we have inherited – with all its dependencies on copper. Stephen Tuffnell, History, University of Oxford

Robrecht Declercq is a senior postdoctoral researcher at Ghent University, Belgium, and the author of World Market Transformation: Inside the German Fur Capital Leipzig, 1870–1939. Duncan Money is a historian of central and southern Africa at Leiden University, the Netherlands. He is the author of White Mineworkers on Zambia’s Copperbelt, 1926–1974: In a Class of Their Own. Hans Otto Frøland is a professor of European contemporary history at Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim. He is a co-editor of From Warfare to Welfare: Business–Government Relations in the Aluminium Industry and Industrial Collaboration in Nazi-Occupied Europe: Norway in Context.

Contributors: Abdolreza Alamdar, Oskar Broberg, Nathan Delaney, Erik Eklund, Ingeborg Guldal, Frida Brende Jenssen, Brian James Leech, Susana Martínez-Rodríguez, Ángel Pascual Martínez-Soto, Jeremy Mouat, Miguel Á. Pérez de Perceval, Iva Peša, Klas Rönnbäck, Ali A. Saeidi, Alejandro San Francisco, Patricia Sippel, Ángel Soto, Dimitrios Theodoridis

Introduction: Worlds of Copper? / Robrecht Declercq, Hans Otto Frøland, and Duncan Money

Part 1: Connections, Technologies, People: Creating the Global Fabric of Copper

1 The Gains of Going Global: The Return on Investment in International Copper Mining during the Second Industrial Revolution / Klas Rönnbäck, Oskar Broberg, and Dimitrios Theodoridis

2 Futures Markets as Trustbusters: The Secrétan Copper Cartel and the London Metal Exchange, 1887–89 / Nathan Delaney

3 American Mining Engineers and the Global Copper Industry, 1880–1945 / Duncan Money

4 The Path to Dominance: American Copper Mining, 1880–1916 / Jeremy Mouat

5 Comparing Copper Nationalism in Zambia and Papua New Guinea, 1964–74 / Ingeborg Guldal and Frida Brende Jenssen

Part 2: Grounding Copper: Communities and Socio-Ecological Transformations

6 Copper Mining in Cuba at the Beginning of Mining Internationalization, 1829–70 / Ángel Pascual Martínez-Soto, Miguel Á. Pérez de Perceval, and Susana Martínez-Rodríguez

7 Copper Communities on the Central African Copperbelt, 1950–2000 / Iva Peša

8 Confronting Kennecott: The Lost City of Bingham Canyon and the History of Mining-Induced Resettlement / Brian James Leech

9 Global and Local Interactions: The Great War, Global Trade, and Community Impacts in the Australian Copper Mining Industry, 1900–20 / Erik Eklund

Part 3: Haves and Have-Nots: Copper in the Age of National Control

10 The Copper Industry as National Enterprise in Modern Japan / Patricia Sippel

11 Katanga and the American World of Copper: Mechanization, Vertical Integration, and the Territorialization of Colonial Capitalism, 1900–30 / Robrecht Declercq

12 The Establishment of Iran’s Copper Mining Industry: The Downfall of Anaconda and Selection Trust in the 1960s–70s / Abdolreza Alamdar and Ali A. Saeidi

13 Copper in Chile: From the New Deal to Full Concessions, 1955–81 / Ángel Soto and Alejandro San Francisco

14 Producer Cartel, International Commodity Agreement, and the Role of the US Government Copper Stockpile / Hans Otto Frøland


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