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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Born with a Copper Spoon

A Global History of Copper, 1830–1980

A global perspective on the demand for and production of copper.

Over the past two centuries, industrial societies hungry for copper—essential for light, power, and communication—have demanded ever-increasing quantities. Born with a Copper Spoon examines how the metal has been produced, distributed, controlled, and sold on a global scale. Throughout history, copper production has spawned its own practices, technologies, and a constantly changing political economy. Large-scale production has affected ecologies, states, and companies while creating and even destroying local communities dependent on volatile commodity markets. Former president Kenneth Kaunda once remarked that Zambians were "born with a copper spoon in our mouths," but few societies managed to profit from copper’s abundance. From copper cartels and the futures market to the consequences of resource nationalism, Born with a Copper Spoon delivers a global perspective on one of the world’s most important metals.

328 pages | 4 halftones, 17 figures, 17 tables, 1 map | 6 x 9 | © 2022

Economics and Business: Economics--Agriculture and Natural Resources, Economics--International and Comparative

History: General History


"The book’s approach has merits beyond the history of copper. A focus on the world systems which underpinned the exploitation of a commodity shows that the idea of a neat and simple division between “colonial” and “post-colonial” worlds is unrealistic."

The Africa Report

“Almost every specialist on the history of copper appears in this volume, creating a comprehensive and useful account of modern copper history.”

Joshua Specht, University of Notre Dame

Born with a Copper Spoon tells a story of fundamental importance to understanding the world system that we have inherited—with all its dependencies on copper.”

Stephen Tuffnell, University of Oxford

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