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Peer reviewed

Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte / Economic History Yearbook

Ed. by Ziegler, Dieter

CiteScore 2017: 0.15

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.124
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.283

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Volume 57, Issue 1


The phosphate archipelago: Imperial mining and global agriculture in French North Africa

Simon Jackson
Published Online: 2016-05-10 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jbwg-2016-0009


This article analyzes the network of phosphate producing sites in French colonial North Africa in the twentieth century. By tracing phosphate flows across the region between mining sites, and by placing the North African network into imperial and global perspective, the article develops the concept of a phosphate archipelago, capable of recognizing the shared specificities of the phosphate mines as extractive spaces and of describing their insertion into adjacent local and regional dynamics. Drawing on political-economic writings after World War One, the article focuses mainly on phosphates’ role in the colonial politics of economic autarky, but also touches on labour migration, the role of phosphates as an actor, and the trajectory of the phosphate archipelago in North Africa across the watershed of independence in the 1950s and down to the present day, when it plays a key role in the politics of global nutrition and food security.

Keywords: North Africa; phosphates; mining; colonial empire; Morocco; Tunisia; global agriculture; World War One

JEL: N 17; N 470; N 570; O 13; Q 17

About the article

Simon Jackson

Simon Jackson (Ph.D. NYU) is Lecturer in Modern Middle Eastern History at the University of Birmingham, where he directs the Centre for Modern and Contemporary History. With the support of a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship, he is currently completing a book on the global political economy of French rule in Syria and Lebanon after World War One, and editing another, with Alanna O’Malley, on the interrelationship of the League of Nations and the United Nations. His new project examines North African phosphates at local, colonial and global scales across the twentieth century. He has taught at the European University Institute in Florence, where he was a Max Weber Post-Doctoral Fellow, and at Sciences-Po in Paris.

Published Online: 2016-05-10

Published in Print: 2016-05-01

Citation Information: Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte / Economic History Yearbook, Volume 57, Issue 1, Pages 187–214, ISSN (Online) 2196-6842, ISSN (Print) 0075-2800, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jbwg-2016-0009.

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