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Capturing Crisis

Solar Power and Humanitarian Energy Markets in Africa

Jamie Cross


Goudebou refugee camp in northern Burkina Faso has emerged as a testing ground for international efforts to find market-based solutions to the delivery of basic energy services in humanitarian contexts. This article follows energy researchers, humanitarian practitioners and entrepreneurs as they work to capture a market for energy here by mapping consumer demand, generating evidence that can prove the willingness of refugees to pay and securing contracts for the supply of solar powered technologies. Their efforts reveal the moral and material logics of humanitarian interventions in the field of energy, and point to the continued significance of ‘crisis’ for the making of Africa's energy politics, subjects and futures.

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Detachment as a corporate ethic

Materializing CSR in the diamond supply chain

Jamie Cross

This article examines efforts by De Beers, the world’s largest supplier of rough diamonds, to better regulate the conditions under which its stones are cut and polished across a global network of buyers, contractors, and subcontractors. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork at an offshore processing unit in South India that was built to service De Beers’ buyers, this article explores how ethical accounting regimes are materialized on the floor of a global factory and how they are grounded in an industrial bureaucracy. In a global supply chain like this one, I argue, codes of practice and audit checklists demand to be understood as material technologies that afford companies and individuals new purchase on an ethic of detachment.

Open access


Fuelling Capture: Africa's Energy Frontiers

Michael Degani, Brenda Chalfin, and Jamie Cross


The introduction to this special issue begins by surveying the significance of what we call Africa's internal energy frontiers for understanding a global energy realignment marked by experiments in renewable technologies as well as revanchist investments in fossil fuels. It then discusses capture as a concept rooted in both Marxist informed accounts of global energy regimes as well as the political histories and practices of African populations. Finally, it discusses the articles as spanning three economies of capture along Africa's energy frontier: resurgent extractivism, post-carbon development and consumer renewables.