“Women and Gender in the Mines: Challenging Masculinity Through History” in the International Review of Social History
The image people in the global North have of mining labour is largely based on the European coal mines of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. We tend to think of mining labour as a typically male occupation, with masculine working cultures of a distant past. What this common perception of mining labour overlooks, is that in the production of just about every modern industrial product, from smartphones to laptops, from vehicles to airplanes, a wide variety of minerals, extracted from ores, are applied. Even less well known is the fact that, in the extraction of these minerals, women are present as miners in overwhelming numbers.
The three articles in this Special Theme: “Women and Gender in the Mines: Challenging Masculinity Through History” in the International Review of Social History refer to women in mining in three different case studies in colonial Potosí (Bolivia), in Spain (1860-1936), and in Greece (1860-1940). Taking a long-term and global labour history perspective, the editors highlight in an extensive introduction how, historically, the concept of masculinity became so interwoven with mining labour, and how this historical image is contradicted by the historical and present reality of mining around the world.