Join in another ETROD session Thursday 19th October 2023, 4:00 pm sharp, CET. where they will be discussing “Swiss extractivism” with Rita Kesselring.


Switzerland is usually not looked upon as a substantial economic actor in Africa. Taking Zambian copper as a case study, we show how important Swiss companies have become in the global commodities trade and the services it depends on. While big Swiss trading firms such as Glencore and Trafigura have generated increasing scholarly and public interest, a multitude of Swiss companies is involved in logistics and transport of Zambian copper. Swiss extractivism, we argue, is a model case for trends in today’s global capitalism. We highlight that servicification, a crucial element of African mining regimes today, creates new and more flexible opportunities for international companies to capture value in global production networks. These opportunities partly rely on business-friendly regulation and tax regimes in Northern countries, a fact which makes companies potentially vulnerable to reputation risks and offers opportunities to civil society actors criticising their role. New and different Swiss–Zambian connections emerge from civil society networks organising around companies’ economic activities.

About the speaker:

Rita Kesselring is a social anthropologist and associate professor of Urban Studies at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of St. Gallen. She works at the intersection of political, economic, legal, and urban anthropology.

To prepare the discussion please find a paper by Rita and her colleague Gregor Dobler here and attached. 

In the session an input by Rita will be followed by a moderated discussion between you and Rita.

This event will be held online. Please contact Janine Hauer ([email protected]) for a link.