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‘We are not just a union, we are a family’ class, kinship and tribe in Zambia’s mining unions

journal contribution
posted on 21.12.2020, 22:33 by Robby Kapesea, Thomas McNamara
© 2020, The Author(s). Trade unions in Zambia and in several other developing countries have been understood to create ‘detribalising’ class consciousnesses. In contrast, we argue that Zambian understandings of unionism have developed through similar political economic processes to those that generated ‘tribes’. Values and structures that enable concepts of the good life more commonly found among Bemba speakers and Eastern Zambians have been naturalised into Zambia’s mining unions, guiding union policy and practice in a manner which limits North Western Zambians’ union participation. Utilising Lazar's (2018) understanding of unionism as kinship, we explore how Zambians of various tribes attempt to utilise unions to achieve what they see as human flourishing and social justice. We foreground that people’s understandings of the good life frequently incorporate gendered and gerontocratic hierarchies and we demonstrate that intra-national unionisms are co-created through (and influence) local cultural norms and political histories. This encourages anthropologists of trade unionism to ask what values and hierarchies are rendered invisible in other union ‘families’, and to explore intertwinements between unions and communities enabled through kinship, rather than through Civil Society Organisations.

History

Publication Date

01/06/2020

Journal

Dialectical Anthropology

Volume

44

Issue

2

Pagination

20p. (p. 153-172)

Publisher

Springer Nature

ISSN

1573-0786

Rights Statement

The Author reserves all moral rights over the deposited text and must be credited if any re-use occurs. Documents deposited in OPAL are the Open Access versions of outputs published elsewhere. Changes resulting from the publishing process may therefore not be reflected in this document. The final published version may be obtained via the publisher’s DOI. Please note that additional copyright and access restrictions may apply to the published version.

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