The sign said: ‘mangeurs de cuivre’ — or eaters of copper. As our cover image reveals, the logic remains intact. Just as Africa has largely been captured in the imagination —‘the country’ with an incapacity to determine its own way forward; intrinsically inferior— so the ‘resource’ is framed as passive, and lacking value save where economically exploited for the purposes of foreign investment or export. It requires the foreigner to realise its destiny. The geography of ‘resource’, broadened to include docile and cheapened bodies; under-valued land emptied through coercion; predatory laws; and the blurred lines between the illegal and the illicit (technically legal but against the purpose of the law), is unraveled and scrutinused in this issue which seeks to probe the axiom inherent in the development model, exposing, in the process, the faultlines fundamental to —rather than deviant from— the civilising narrative. From fake contracts used by an oil company to displace Malagasy villagers, to the legal looting of Nigeria’s oil (estimated at billions per year via PSC contracts charging 0% royalties for deepwater extraction in excess of 1000 meters) the articles peer into the factories, villages, and farms; the footnotes, crevices, and cracks, posing difficult questions, and leaving inconvenient evidence on the doorstep of those who should be named.
We look forward to your feedback.
— The Editors