Dr. Cassandra Mark-Thiesen

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin Projekt "Rural Liberia in the Age of Developmentalism"

I am interested in the social and economic history of West Africa. My current project “Rural Liberia in the Age of Developmentalism: Policies, Politics, Imaginations and Constraints, c. 1950 to 1980”, explores the germination and implementation of the post-World War II development concept. In particular, it illuminates how men from the Tuskegee institute working in Liberia and the United States shaped that endeavor. The project is further concerned with how a variety of African and African-American men and women gave moral, political, social and and economic meaning to postwar development, and especially what would become American economic aid after 1950. The project is being supported by the Marie Heim-Vögtlin Fund of the Swiss National Science Foundation.

My first book, Mediators, Contract Men and Colonial Capital: Mechanized Gold Mining in the Gold Coast Colony, 1879-1909, explores the social and economic history of West African workers in the Wassa gold mines in southwest Ghana in the late 19th and early 20th century. The recruitment of contract men with the help of differently motivated, often marginal, labor agents from various parts of West Africa was a necessary, yet, at times challenging, feature of mobilisation for the mechanised mines. These intermediaries, both male and female, were crucial to the making of an expansive and fluid wage labour market in the region during the early stages of colonialism.


Education: 11/2014, DPhil, University of Oxford, Imperial and Global History (African History) 04/2008, M.A., Florida State University, International Affairs, focus in African Studies 08/2005, B.A. (Hons.), Florida State University, Communications 06/2001, Matura, Gymnasium Leonhard, Basel, Switzerland


Mediators, Contract Men and Colonial Capital: Mechanized Gold Mining in the Gold Coast Colony, 1879-1909 (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, forthcoming).



"African Women and the 'Lazy African' Myth in Nineteenth Century West Africa," in Peter-Paul Bänziger and Michael Suter (eds.) Histories of Productivity: Genealogical Perspectives on the Body and Modern Economy, (New York: Routeledge, 2016).



"Goldminen, Akkordarbeit und weibliche Bergarbeiterinnen – ein neuer Blick durch Global Labour History", ETÜ, 2016. 




The “Bargain” of Collaboration: African Intermediaries, Indirect Recruitment, and Indigenous Institutions in the Ghanaian Gold Mining Industry, 1900-1906,’ in: International Review of Social History, 2012, 57, 17-28





History of West Africa, History of Migration, History of Capitalism, History of Education, Labor and Employment History, History of Slavery, History of Development, Precolonial and Colonial History, African-American History, Global History

Mitgliedschaften und Ehrungen

African Studies Association Swiss Society for African Studies (‘Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Afrikastudien’)

African Economic History Network

African Studies Association (USA)

European Network in Universal and Global History  (ENIUGH)

Aktuelle Publikationen

Cassandra, Mark-Thiesen: African Women and the "Lazy African" Myth in Nineteenth Century West Africa, in: Bänziger, Peter-Paul; Suter, Mischa (Hg.): Histories of Productivity: Genealogical Perspectives on the Body and Modern Economy, New York 2017, S. 42-56. edoc
Mark-Thiesen, Cassandra: The Need to Be Indebted: Political Considerations for the Mobilisation of Mining Labour in Southwest Ghana, c. 1879 - 1900, in: Bhattacharya, Sabyasachi; Behal, Rana P. (Hg.): The vernacularization of labour politics, 2016. edoc

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