Dr. Johannes Knierzinger

Senior Lecturer

Institut für Internationale Entwicklung
Sensengasse 3/2/2
1090 Wien

M: johannes.knierzinger(at)univie.ac.at
T: +43-1-4277-64105

Sprechstunden: nach Vereinbarung

Research interests:

  • Mining in Africa
  • History of European development policies
  • Globalization and social complexity
  • International division of labor
  • Global production networks
  • “Neotraditional” political institutions in West Africa


The ‘Third Scramble for Africa’ from a European perspective

since 10/2018 (until 06/2019 as visiting scholar at Harvard University)

When China started in the 2000s to restrict its raw material exports, this led to an outcry of the industry in Europe and the US. The Federation of German Industries (BDI) warned about a ”Second Cold War” and demanded the immediate liberalization of “rare earths”, which were only available in China at this time, needed among other things for “green technologies” like windmills and electric cars. However, at least initially, many Southern governments followed the example of China, not least because they were pushed to do so by their own population, which felt that it did not profit from the steeply rising raw material prices in their countries. These countries thus began to review their mining contracts, form alliances, threaten to nationalize mines and – in some cases – invest revenues sustainably in education and social services. This North-South-conflict is comparable to the so-called oil crises of the 1970s. In both periods, analysists talked about a new “scramble” of the industrial powers for African resources. The European industry reacted in both periods by forming buyer cartels (like the German RA Rohstoffallianz) and joint ventures and by “transnationalizing” its supply chains, most of all to protect itself against nationalizations. At the same time the companies started to lobby the liberalization of raw material exports. Among other things, this led to the European Raw Materials Initiative and to a list of Critical Raw Materials, whose access should be more rigorously enforced. For this project, I therefore conceive these two periods as European crises of resource provision or crises of chain governance. I want to find out how the European answers to these crises came into being and how these answers impacted on African countries. My theoretical approach draws from political economy and global history. A central aspect of this transdisciplinary approach is its focus on transnational production networks. First, I will find out where the African iron, copper or tin goes after it has been mined and, in a second step, I focus on the societal structures that regulate and maintain these resource flows.


Socio-political aspects of mine closure in West Africa

10/2016 – 10/2018 (Post-doctoral research at the Institut de recherche pour le développement – IRD/ Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne):

There is broad consensus about the fact that many negative consequences of mine closure can only be avoided by differently planning and constructing mining towns from the start. This involves the establishment of closure funds, the stimulation of diversification as well as infrastructural considerations. However, these challenges are presented as technical problems that can only be solved with the intervention of experts without considering already-existing propositions and practices of the population itself, and without referring to the global politico-economic context. We proposed to bridge this gap by comparing mine closures from the point of view of discussions about the 'right to the city'.




  • Knierzinger, J. (2018): Bauxite mining in Africa. Transnational Corporate Governance and Development. International Political Economy Series. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Knierzinger, J. (2010): The Chiefs of Development. Local Development and Local Government in Ghana. Wien: Südwind-Verlag.

Journal articles (peer reviewed):

  • (Accepted) Knierzinger, J. (2019): The European Africa policy during the commodity booms of the 1960s/70s and the 2000s: Preliminary outcomes of an ongoing study. Open Forum Series 35, Center for European Studies at Harvard University. Preprint
  • (Submitted) Iheid, M./ Knierzinger, J. (2019):  From the corporate gift to state-sponsored CSR: Electricity provision and sovereignty in Guinea. Political Geography 73.
  • (Accepted) Knierzinger, J. (2018): Les chemins sinueux de l'aluminium africain. In: Cahiers d'histoire de l'aluminium 62 (1) 2019.
  • Knierzinger, J. / Sopelle I. (2018): Mine closure from below: Transformative movements in two shrinking West African mining towns. In: The Extractive Industries and Society, 2018. DOI: 10.1016/j.exis.2018.08.010.
  • Knierzinger, J. (2017):  Mining Towns as Portals of Globalization: The Arrival of the Global Aluminium Industry in West Africa. In Comparativ 27 (3–4) 2017.
  • Knierzinger, J. (2016): Fria in Guinea: A dismissed bauxite town. In: Stichproben 30 (1) 2016.
  • Knierzinger, J. / Engeler, M./ Amann, C. (2016): Guinea: Spearhead of change or eternal maverick? In: Stichproben 30 (1) 2016.
  • Knierzinger, J. (2016): Après le boom: la laborieuse mise en œuvre de nouvelles régulations dans le secteur minier guinéen. In: EchoGéo 36 2016. DOI : 10.4000/echogeo.14758.
  • Pichler, M./ Knierzinger, J. (2014): Globale Rohstoffpolitik am Scheideweg? (La politique mondiale des ressources à l’heure du choix?). In: Journal für Entwicklungspolitik 30 (3) 2014, pp. 4–9.
  • Knierzinger, J. (2014): Überlegungen zu Steuerung und ungleichem Tausch in Rohstoffgüterketten mit Beispielen aus Guineas Bauxitbergbau. In: Journal für Entwicklungspolitik 30 (3) 2014, pp. 68–89.
  • Knierzinger, J. (2014): The sociopolitical implications of bauxite mining in Guinea: A commodity chain perspective. In: The Extractive Industries and Society 1 (1) 2014, pp. 20–7. DOI: 10.1016/j.exis.2014.01.005
  • Knierzinger, J. (2013): Rohstoffreichtum und Selbstbestimmung. In: Afrika-Bulletin 152, nov.-déc. 2013, pp. 12–3.


 Book chapters:


  • Knierzinger, J. (2018): Unternehmerische Kontrolle in guineischen Bauxitstädten: Wie man von einem Löwen springt. In: Obrecht, Andreas (ed.): Wissen und Entwicklung III. Texte des Österreichen Nachwuchspreises für Entwicklungsforschung 2015 und 2017. Wien: StudienVerlag, pp. 119-126.

  • Knierzinger, J. (2017): Die Rohstoffkrise der 2000er Jahre aus der Sicht von Claude Raffestins “Geographie der Macht”. In: Komlosy, A./ Schnöller, A./ Stekl, H. (eds): “Tausch wollt ich, keinen Raub...” Die Erfindung des Rohstoffs. Historische Sozialkunde: Geschichte – Fachdidaktik – Politische Bildung 4/2017. Wien: Verein für Geschichte und Sozialkunde, pp. 28–35.

  • Knierzinger, J. (2017): How to calculate transnational friendship: Should I send Godwin money again? In: Haberl, M./ Prahl, M./ Teynor, J./ Zimmerman, N. (eds): The everyday beyond: International and global dimensions of learning processes. Facilitator Handbook #3. Berlin: MitOst Editions.
  • Knierzinger, J. (2016): Aluminium aus Afrika. Ausbeutung auf Umwegen. Karin Fischer, Johannes Jäger, Lukas Schmidt (eds): Rohstoffe und Entwicklung. Historische Sozialkunde/ Internationale Entwicklung 35. Wien: New Academic Press, pp. 203–20.
  • Knierzinger, J. (2013): Wirtschaft & Politik Ghanas. In: Zach, M./ Seyfried, C. (2013): Grenzenlos-Landesprofil Ghana, pp. 19–25. En ligne: http://www.grenzenlos-online.at/public/Grenzenlos-Profil_Ghana.pdf.
  • Knierzinger, J. (2011): Das Leben Deines Computers. In: Südwind NÖ Süd (2011): global action schools 2 communities Toolkit. Von der Theorie zur Aktion. Wien: Südwind, pp. 54–7.
  • Knierzinger, J. (2007): Konzepte der Afrikanischen Konsensdemokratie. Neue Regierungsformen für Afrika. In: Faschingeder, G. (2007): Eigentum Anders (La propriété autrement). Linz: Trauner Verlag, pp. 31–53.

Editor of journal issues:

  • Amann, C./ Engeler, M./ Knierzinger, J. (2016): Stichproben 30 (1) 2016: Guinea: one revolution at a time.
  • Pichler, M./ Knierzinger, J. (2014): Journal für Entwicklungspolitik 30 (3) 2014: Rohstoffpolitik und Entwicklung.

Articles without peer review:

  • Knierzinger, J. (2013): Extractivism during crises of chain governance. The regulation of the global aluminum chain in Guinea from the 1960s until today. ECAS 2013 – 5th European Conference on African Studies African dynamics in a multipolar world. Online: http://www.nomadit.co.uk/ecas/ecas2013/panels.php5?PanelID=1775.
  • Knierzinger, J. (2013): Political consequences of mining in Guinea. The crisis of chain governance in the 1970s and its repercussions today. CMS 2013 – 8th International Conference in Critical Management Studies, Manchester.
  • Knierzinger, J. (2011): Das Leben meines Computers. In: Talktogether Nr. 36/2011.
  • Knierzinger, J. (2010): Chieftaincy and Development in Ghana. From Political Intermediaries to Neotraditional Development Brokers. Arbeitspapiere des Instituts für Ethnologie und Afrikastudien der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz. Online:  www.ifeas.uni-mainz.de/Dateien/AP124.pdf, 2010.
  • Bormann, S./ Knierzinger, J. (2009): Kauft gute Arbeit! Verbindliche Unternehmensverantwortung und öffentliche Beschaffung als Mittel zur Durchsetzung guter Arbeit. In: INOKTA-Dossier 6 (2009): Gute Arbeit, schlechte Arbeit. Decent Work und der Kampf um eine würdige Beschäftigung weltweit.
  • Bormann, S./ Knierzinger, J. (2009): Ausbeutung in Raumanzügen. In: INOKTA-Dossier 6 (2009): Gute Arbeit, schlechte Arbeit. Decent Work und der Kampf um eine würdige Beschäftigung weltweit.
  • Knierzinger, J. (2009): Die Freaks der 1930er. Wiener Schlurfs und der Beginn der subkulturellen Revolution. Unique, Ausgabe 06/2009
  • Knierzinger, J. (2008): Der Banker als Missionar: Ex-RLB-Boss bei Oikocredit. In: Medianet, 5. Dez. 2008

  • Knierzinger, J. (2008): Die Rezepte für einen Neustart. In: Medianet, 12. Dez. 2008