Miles Larmer - Living for the City: Social Change and Knowledge Production in the Central African Copperbelt (CUP, 2021)

cd featured publication living for the city

Living for the City is a social history of the Central African Copperbelt, considered as a single region encompassing the neighbouring mining regions of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Haut Katanga and Zambian Copperbelt mine towns have been understood as the vanguard of urban 'modernity' in Africa. Observers found in these towns new African communities that were experiencing what they wrongly understood as a transition from rural 'traditional' society – stable, superstitious and agricultural – to an urban existence characterised by industrial work discipline, the money economy and conspicuous consumption, Christianity, and nuclear families headed by male breadwinners supported by domesticated housewives. Miles Larmer challenges this representation of Copperbelt society, presenting an original analysis which integrates the region's social history with the production of knowledge about it, shaped by both changing political and intellectual contexts and by Copperbelt communities themselves.

This book is available online Open Access in perpetuity and can be downloaded here.  A hardback version is also available to buy via the publisher’s website.

This book is based on research that is part of a project that has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no: 681657): ‘Comparing the Copperbelt: Political Culture and Knowledge Production in Central Africa’



1. Imagining the Copperbelts

2. Boom Time – Revisiting Capital and Labour in the Copperbelt

3. Space, Segregation and Socialisation

4. Political Activism, Organisation and Change in the Late Colonial Copperbelt

5. Gendering the Copperbelt

6. Nationalism and Nationalisation

7. Copperbelt cultures from the Kalela Dance to the Beautiful Time

8. Decline and Fall: Crisis and the Copperbelt, 1975-2000

9. Remaking the Land: Environmental Change in the Copperbelt's history, present and future