Raphael Deberdt

Research Key Words:

Mining Anthropology, Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cobalt, Extractive Industries, Artisanal Mining, Economic Anthropology, Global Markets, Infrastructures, Imperial Debris, Colonial and Post-Colonial Theories

Research Summary:

Broadly speaking, my research is inscribed in the subfield of mining anthropology and explores the impacts that extractive industries hold on local communities. I study the role of Congolese artisanal miners in the cobalt industry and their integration in global markets, particularly in the battery manufacturing sector. As the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) supplies seventy percent of the world’s cobalt, and artisanal miners provide twenty percent of the country’s output, their role is critical to the ‘green transition’. Increasing investments by downstream car manufacturers have focused on the development of ‘responsible’ artisanal supply answer to the perceived need for more formalization of miners linked to Western definitions of legal and illegal operations. My research focuses on the development of these ‘responsible’ sourcing projects, prompted by Western advocacy and led by corporate social responsibility (CSR) teams in some of the world’s largest companies, and their impacts on communities through a direct link beween individual miners and global markets.


MA Sciences Po Lyon in International Studies, MA Stanford University in African Studies, LLM Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne in African Legal Studies, MA École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Anthropology.

MA Thesis Description:

In the little town of Kiruna, Sweden, located 150 km north of the Arctic Circle, public company, LKAB developed the world’s largest iron ore underground mine. This study explored the impacts of supporting infrastructures, including railways and freeways, on Sami cultural autonomy.

PhD Supervisor(s): Carole Blackburn, Vinay Kamat


4 Year Fellowship , 2019
International Tuition Award , 2019