First Advisor

Jennifer Tappan

Date of Award


Document Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History and University Honors






Copper miners -- Zambia -- Social conditions -- 20th century, Medical care -- Zambia -- History -- 20th century, Industrial relations -- Zambia -- History -- 20th century, Strikes and lockouts -- Miners -- Zambia, Copper industry and trade -- Zambia, Copper Miners' Strike (Zambia 1935), Copper Miners' Strike (Zambia 1940)




Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in the conditions of labor and labor migration in central Africa by scholars such as Miles Larmer, whose work compared conditions on the Belgian and Northern Rhodesian Copperbelts to provide a new narrative for how capital-labor relations developed in the region, and Patience Mususa, whose scholarship focuses on the character of social welfare services on the Northern Rhodesian Copperbelt. This new literature and the earlier work from which it was inspired, while citing the 1935 and 1940 labor strikes as pivotal moments in the history of Northern Rhodesia/Zambia, does little to connect the health and labor conditions on the Copperbelt with strikers' motivation to take industrial action in '35 and '40. This paper sets out to examine the relationship between health and the mineworkers' strikes of 1935 and 1940. Influenced by James Ferguson's work, it also explores dependency as a survival strategy for miners and their families. It supports the argument that the '35 and '40 strikes were a product of miners looking to improve their living and working conditions and rejects the idea that these strikes were explicitly anti-colonialist in nature, as argued by M.R. Mwendapole, or that they were merely primitive, spontaneous strikes borne from confusion, in the case of 1935, or from a desire to emulate Europeans, such as in 1940.


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