I will be giving a paper titled: '"A Spacious Wound": North African Phosphates, Racialised Extraction and Late-Imperial Rule.My paper abstract:
'"A Spacious Wound": North African Phosphates, Racialised Extraction and Late-Imperial Rule.
This paper draws on a range of memoir and archival sources to critically examine the imperial political economy of phosphate mining in late imperial North Africa, with a focus on the Gafsa area in French Protectorate Tunisia, and on Khouribga in French Protectorate Morocco, respectively the genesis point and the culmination of imperial phosphate extraction in the region. Rock phosphate in the first half of the twentieth century became a critical ingredient of new agro-chemical food production strategies in European colonial empires refigured by the world wars. This paper sketches that wider context, attending notably to British imperial policy, which balanced its interest in North Africa with a predominant reliance on Nauru and Pacific sources of phosphate; this enables a methodological reflection on how to reconcile global with colonial and local scales of analysis. The analytical core of the paper, meanwhile, examines the racialisation of labour, sovereignty and space in the mining towns, paying particular attention to practices of extraction that racialised mining technologies as they circulated between mining towns or operated in trans-Mediterranean, inter-imperial production chains.
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