||This book is based on Enid Guene Master's thesis 'Copper, Borders and Nation-building: The Katangese Factor in Zambian Economic and Political History', runner-up in the African Studies Centre, Leiden's 2014 African Thesis Award. This annual award for Master's students encourages student research and writing on Africa and promotes the study of African cultures and societies.
The Copperbelt has, for about a century, formed the economic backbone of the two countries that host it: the Republic of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Zambian and Congolese Copperbelts share long-standing economic, social and political ties, resulting in their histories being peppered with points of interconnections. Yet, there exists no integrated history of the Copperbelt. This tendency to see the Copperbelt as not one but two entities has to do with several factors, at the root of which is the Copperbelt’s distribution over two countries. This created an artificial division in the eyes of many observers, a division which, crucially, was reflected in academic research. The Zambian and Congolese Copperbelt have traditionally belonged to two distinct academic traditions, one English-speaking and the other French-speaking. As a result, there has been a tendency to overlook the actual interplay that existed between them. This interplay is what the present narrative proposes to investigate, going from pre-colonial linkages to the circumstances in which the border was set up and the patterns of migrations that the appearance of two competing and neighbouring mining centres engendered. The influence of these processes on Zambian political development will also be considered.