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Beyond ‘Miracle States’ and ‘Blood Diamonds’: State Strategy, Dispossession, and Diamond Extraction in Botswana and Zimbabwe

  • Author(s): Mueller, Jason
  • Advisor(s): Smith, David A
  • et al.
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Abstract

Current scholarship on Botswana heralds its post-colonial development as a democratic miracle, while Zimbabwe is considered a corrupted and kleptocratic state. Despite analysts often painting these regions as two dissimilar cases of development, their mutual decisions to expel populations for the sake of accessing diamond reserves demands further investigation. I take up this challenge.

In chapter 1, I summarize the driving questions behind my investigation and briefly outline the history of the global diamond industry. Chapter 2 outlines the theoretical synthesis that guides my analysis. This includes theories on global political economy, state theory, economic geography, and ideology and discourse analysis. Chapter 3 presents the epistemological and methodological approach informing my comparative and historical research design, while also outlining my sources of data. Chapter 4 discusses Botswana’s post-colonial governance and the importance of diamond mining to the governing bloc’s developmental strategy. I analyze their decision to expel the indigenous San population from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, for the sake of accessing subterranean diamond reserves. I uncover a partially successful diamond mining venture that also left the newly dispossessed population depressed and lacking access to basic amenities. Chapter 5 examines the post-colonial developmental trajectory of Zimbabwe. I discuss the importance of discovering substantial reserves of diamonds in their Marange region and the brutal, government-sponsored population expulsions that followed this discovery for the sake of accessing these reserves. I find there was a minimally successful project of extraction and export, while the newly dispossessed population often languished in poverty, without electricity or water. Chapter 6 offers comparative insights, highlighting how these brutally-obtained diamonds were able to be extracted and enter the global diamond market in part due to a narrowly-defined conceptualization of conflict/blood diamonds. I also highlight structural trends of the global political economy that shaped and responded to institutional, ideo-discursive, and spatial configurations in each locale, making extraction and dispossession more and/or less difficult over time. Chapter 7 concludes by relating my findings to broader and ongoing trends, including the limitations of extraction-based development, the changing shape of the global diamond market, and brutal land dispossessions in the global South.

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This item is under embargo until March 11, 2025.