Peter Vale in flecked turtleneck sweater in front of a concrete wall

Peter Vale

Haas Fellow

Peter Vale is a historian of capitalism and the environment in Africa. His current research project, “‘Child of Copper’: Mining, Capitalism, and State-Making in Central Africa, 1899-1983,” asks why, despite persistent economic decline and devastating environmental consequences, have Congolese workers, residents, and officials maintained a deep attachment to corporate enterprise and private capital in the country’s mining sector? In answering this question, he explores how Congolese political leaders, subjects, and citizens navigated the tensions between their historical relationships with natural resources, their reliance on extractive capital, and their desires for political sovereignty. Utilizing the Science History Institute’s collection of corporate records, engineering archives, and mining periodicals, this project seeks to develop a popular history of environmental knowledge and capitalist thought in Africa that challenges the hegemony of Western-centric, colonial epistemologies in environmental studies and political economy.