The battle for authority: State formation and political mobilisation in the shadow of multinational corporations – a case study of Zambian mining unions

Contributing to Political Sociology, Esther Uzar’s research explores state formation and political mobilisation in the Zambian Copperbelt – one of Africa’s mining areas invaded by multinational investors. Taking up Charles Tilly’s and Joel Migdal’s approach to the place of intermediaries in (dis-)-connecting people to the state, the case study investigates how authority is produced and negotiated in the context of the mineworkers’ unions (the Mineworkers’ Union of Zambia, National Union of Miners and Allied Workers and United Mineworkers Union of Zambia).

Interests: political opposition, state-society relations, labour unions, mining in Africa

Supervisor: Till Förster

Co-Supervisor: to be determined


University of the Witwatersrand: International Visiting Scholar at the Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP); Johannesburg, South Africa

University of Basel: Junior Researcher on ‘African Political Cultures: A Comparative Study in Guinea-Bissau, Libya, South Africa, and Zambia’; German Research Foundation; with Elísio Macamo, Georg Klute and Trutz von Trotha

University of Bayreuth: MA and BA in African Studies (Sociology, Social Anthropology, Institutional Economics)

MA research in Zambia: Micro entrepreneurs and business associations during the economic crisis in 2009

BA: Sociology of knowledge in development programmes


Uzar, Esther (2017): Contested labour and political leadership: three mineworkers’ unions after the opposition victory in Zambia. In Review of African political economy 44(152): 292–311.

Uzar, Esther (2017): Politische Mobilisierung gegen Rohstoffkonzerne in Sambia. In Forschungsjournal Soziale Bewegungen 30(1): 71-80.

Uzar, Esther (2016): Der politische Kampf mit multinationalen Rohstoffkonzernen. In Afrika Süd 45(3): 14-15.

Uzar, Esther (2014): Collective bargaining in Zambian mining: Rifts between union leaders and members. In South African Labour Bulletin, 38(2).

Uzar, Esther (2014): Organisierte Verantwortungslosigkeit – Enthüllungen der Untersuchungskommission nach dem Marikana Massaker in Südafrika. In Afrika-Bulletin 154, Mai/Juni: 12-13.

Uzar, Esther (2014): Review of Marikana: Voices from South Africa’s Mining Massacre, by Peter Alexander, Thapelo Lekgowa, Botsang Mmope, Luke Sinwell, and Bongani Xezwi. In African Studies Quarterly, 14(3): 120-122.

Uzar, Esther (2013): Enttäuschte Hoffnungen. Sozialkritik in Gewerkschaften in Sambia. In Afrika-Bulletin 149, Februar/März: 8-9.

Uzar, Esther (2012): Review of Living the End of Empire: Politics and Society in Late Colonial Zambia, by Jan-Bart Gewald, Marja Hinfelaar, and Giacomo Macola. In African Studies Quarterly 13(3): 87-88.



Portrait_Esther Uzar_G3S

Esther Uzar
Zentrum für Afrikastudien Basel
Rheinsprung 21
4051 Basel

Tel: +41 61 267 34 82