Unfinished business? Trajectories and global consequences of nationalizations in the copper industry in Latin America and Africa (1950-1980).

01 October 2021 → 30 September 2024
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Business and labour history
    • Modern and contemporary history
    • Socio-economic history
    • World history
    • History not elsewhere classified
Economic decolonization Nationalization and expropriation Conditions of multinational investment
Project description

This project examines nationalizations in the copper industry in Latin America and Africa in the 1960s-70s, which involved some of the largest business expropriations in modern history. While nationalizations have been understood primarily through state-centric perspectives and as a political outcome, this project maintains that nationalizations of industries have to be examined in relation to resource chains in which they were embedded. It thereby focuses on the complexity of the process and on new, underexplored factors like changing ways of organizing production, technology transfer as well as global diversification processes. In studying these new facets, the project aims to reveal not only conflicts but also changing ways of business-state relations and new investment practices. In doing so, it aims to provide through studying nationalizations a better historical understanding of one of the paradoxes of the postwar global economy: how the quest for economic self-determination was eventually replaced by a more libertarian commodity regime of the 1980s. The project uses a combination of research methods, commodity chain analysis to reveal the struggle over institutions that governed copper chains, and digital methods to analyze and map the global extent and consequences of copper nationalizations.