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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Governing Mineral Extraction in Africa (PGSP11281)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryReviewing statistics on Africa's declining share of world trade, Susan George remarked in 1993 "one can almost hear the sound of sub-Saharan Africa sliding off the world map." But in 2016 Africa is clearly back on the map. Global competition for oil, coal and gas, metals, rare earths and other strategic minerals is on the rise and Africa has the goods. Not only governments and multinationals based in western countries, but increasingly investors from China, India, Russia, Brazil and other ascending economic power-players are scrambling to secure their access to Africa's mineral wealth and try to forge personal and political alliances with the continent's leaders. And there is some evidence of a growing ambition and capacity within Africa to add value to the continent's mineral wealth.

Is Africa finding a new place for itself in the world economy, or still largely stuck in its colonial role as provider of cheap raw materials for overseas manufacturing? By whom, and how exactly is the extraction of Africa's vast mineral wealth governed? What role do governmental and non-governmental regulatory bodies and activist campaigns play? What are the links between the legal and illegal sides of this business? How do corporations and governments react to activist and consumer demands for ethically sound business practices? What exactly is the "Resource Curse", and can it be avoided?

This course offers a critical introduction to current research on the historical, economic, social, political, environmental and geographical dimensions of mineral extraction in Africa. These topics are approached through literature, lectures, student presentations and discussions in class on a multidisciplinary range of theories and concepts as well as in-depth case studies of selected countries, minerals, corporations and activist campaigns. As we explore the history, politics and conflicts surrounding mineral extraction in areas like the Niger Delta, Ghana, DRC, Tanzania, South Africa and the Zambian Copperbelt the focus will not only be on official policy pronouncements by members of the elites who govern mineral extraction. We will also critically examine the movements of money in and out of Africa, consumer activism on 'blood diamonds' and other 'conflict minerals', the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility, and emerging attempts at corporate self-regulation like the Kimberley Process and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. The daily realities and politics surrounding small-scale and artisanal miners, smugglers, militias and other foot-soldiers of extraction will also emerge in ethnographic detail.

Numerous students who have taken this course in the past have since gone on to write Masters or Doctoral Dissertations on extraction topics, and some have found related work in the governmental, non-governmental or corporate sectors. The students are given a high degree of freedom & responsibility, guidance & feedback to choose the topics and case studies they wish to bring into the classroom and essay writing process.
Course description 1. Introduction

Lecture: A critical introduction to the "Resource Curse" thesis will be followed by a presentation on course practicalities, course topics and the distribution of student group presentations.

2. You Sign, We Dig. Mineral Extraction and Colonial State Formation in Africa

Lecture: Scrambling for Africa - Now and Then

Student presentation: It did not start with the White Guys: pre-colonial mineral extraction in Africa

3. African Minerals and Geopolitics

Lecture: A closer look at the political power of African minerals beyond their economic value

Student presentation: The political implications of China's and other recent newcomers' appetite for African resources

4: Africa's Place in the 21st Century World Order

Lecture: Tax havens, transnational trade, organized crime, and problems for academics to 'think outside the state'

Student presentation: 'Thick' versus 'thin state': Mineral extraction, foreign investment and political order - the cases of oil in Angola during the country's civil war, and copper in 1960s-70s Zambia

5: Let's Talk Oil

Lecture: "Successful Failed States": The pervasive impact of the petro-economy on state formation and politics in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea region.

Student presentation: Getting it Right This Time - Ghana and Uganda as emerging failed oil states or success stories in the making?

6: The Foot Soldiers of Extraction

Lecture: Artisanal mining and the fine line between legality and licitness

Student presentation: A close-up of the daily struggles by small-scale gold and diamond miners against state regulation and market liberalization in Tanzania

7: Blood Diamonds are Forever

Lecture: A short history of DeBeers and how the nasty side of bling bling led to the Kimberley Process

Student Presentation: Blame it on Mugabe? Blood Diamond Extraction in Zimbabwe

8: Corporate Social Responsibility: Universal Solution or the Fox Guarding the Chicken Coop?

Lecture: A critical look at CSR and related initiatives of corporate self-governance

Student presentation: The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) - success story in the making?

9: There Will Be Blood. Mineral Extraction and Conflict in Africa

Lecture: A hot debate: Whose greed, whose grievance?

Student presentation: Your gizmo's heart of darkness: War and mineral extraction in eastern DRC

10: How Much can the Planet Give and Take?

Lecture: Will the 21st century race for Africa's resources hit a wall? What defines the Limits to Growth in Africa?

Student presentation: Trash for gold, carbon for oil - closing the extractive cycle.

Student Learning Experience

The course runs for 10 weeks (2 hours per week). Each session includes a 60 minute lecture, a student group presentation of max. 20 minutes length, and time for discussion. Use of visual media (e.g. Power Point or Prezi) is obligatory for all student presentations.
Each week the overall course theme is addressed through a specific sub-topic, which is grounded in the compulsory readings for each session. Students are expected to read all the compulsory readings before each class.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. show a comprehensive understanding of the diverse factors shaping mineral extraction and its governance in contemporary Africa
  2. knowledge of a topically and geographically diverse range of detailed case studies on mineral extraction in Africa organised around clearly defined sub-topics
  3. think critically and make informed interpretations of a wide range of past and current trends shaping fundamental realities in Africa and the world economy
  4. demonstrate specific expertise that will enable them to continue with academic work in this field or pursue careers in development policy-making and practice in governmental or non-governmental organisations, consumer activism and international business in the extractive industries
Reading List
See 'Course Handbook'
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Andrew Bowman
Tel: (0131 6)51 1000
Course secretaryMiss Kate Ferguson
Tel: (0131 6)51 5122
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