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Blacksmiths of Ilamba: a social history of labor at the Nova Oeiras Iron Foundry (Angola, 18th Century)

Grant number: 22/09295-2
Support Opportunities:Regular Research Grants - Publications - Books published abroad
Duration: November 01, 2022 - October 31, 2023
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History
Principal Investigator:Silvia Hunold Lara
Grantee:Silvia Hunold Lara
Host Institution: Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas (IFCH). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil


The book "Blacksmiths of Ilamba. A Social History of Labor at the Nova Oeiras Iron Foundry (Angola, 18th century)" analyzes the establishment of an iron foundry in the interior of Angola, in the 18th-century. The Portuguese Enlightenment encouraged investment in manufacturing, particularly iron, a metal indispensable for military and technological purposes. However, the colonial plans faced the resistance of African blacksmiths and smelters who refused to learn foreign techniques and work processes. By emphasizing the Central African agency, the book highlights the successful strategies of historical actors who scholars have largely ignored.Based upon a wide variety of sources from Brazilian, Portuguese, and Angolan archives, the book reconstructs how Africans were taken to work at the foundry and the important role they played in developing the form of production employed there. By emphasizing continuities with African technology and the quality of the iron produced, it counters interpretations of the project as an example of the failure of the Portuguese Enlightenment. It also highlights the relationship between local political leaders and the colonial government and elucidates the processes by which workers were organized. The analysis also deals with the circulation of knowledge about iron manufacturing, contributing to revitalizing debates that consider only the European perspective in the transmission of knowledge.The book was published in Portuguese in 2018 when it received the Agostinho Neto International Historical Research Award (2017/2018), and its translation into English will be part of the series "Work in Global and Historical Perspective", which addresses the history of work and investigates one or more of its many forms on a global scale. (AU)

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