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Title: West African labour and the development of mechanised mining in southwest Ghana, c.1870s to 1910
Author: Mark-Thiesen, Cassandra
ISNI:       0000 0004 5055 3551
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Wassa in southwest Ghana was the location of the largest mining sector in colonial British West Africa. The gold mines provide an excellent case study of how labour was mobilised for large-scale production immediately after the legal end of slavery, in the context of an expansive independent labour market. Divided into three sections, this thesis examines the practice of indirect labour recruitment for the mines during the formative years of colonial rule; the incorporation of ‘traditional’ credit relationships into ‘modern’ commerce. The starting point for this study is the analysis of precolonial strategies for mobilising labour. Part one examines the most pervasive and coercive employer-employee relationship in precolonial West Africa, namely the master-slave relationship. Even enslaved Africans could expect individual economic opportunity, and related to such, debt protection, and the power of labourers increased significantly after abolition. Starting in the 1870s, mine management found that the most effective way of recruiting long-term wage earners was through headmen; African authorities who established temporary patronage relationships with a group of labourers by offering them credit. Moreover, administrative and court records indicate that there were various forms of headship, some which the mines managed to impose greater regulation over than others. Therefore, part two demonstrates that issues of cost and control of recruitment differed depending on whether the labour recruiter had been furnished with the capital of a mining firm to conduct his business, whether he had done so with his own personal savings, or whether he was in the employment of the colonial government. Finally, part three takes a comparative look at headship and recruitment through rural chiefs, which began in 1906; two successive forms of non-free wage labour mobilisation. In 1909, mine management reverted to the headship system that many colonial commentators regarded as being more compatible with the colonial political order, albeit under considerably stricter regulations.
Supervisor: Deutsch, Jan-Georg Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Economic and Social History ; History of Africa ; History of Britain and Europe ; History of other areas ; International,imperial and global history ; Ghana ; Mining ; Wassa ; Headmen ; Recruitment ; colonial commerce ; Liberia