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Author and anti-slavery activist to speak on cobalt mining in the Congo

“Cobalt is an essential component to every lithium-ion rechargeable battery made today, the batteries that power our smartphones, tablets, laptops, and electric vehicles. Roughly 75 percent of the world’s supply of cobalt is mined in the Congo, often by peasants and children in sub-human conditions.” 

The Frederick Douglass Book Prize winner, Siddharth Kara, will discuss his novel, “Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives,” on Friday, November 10.

Beginning at 12:00 p.m. in the Kaufmann Auditorium in Goldwin Smith Hall, Kara will talk about the immense toll cobalt mining has had on the people and environment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo — and the moral consequences that affect us all. The book talk is open to the Cornell community and to the public.

“Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives” is Siddharth Kara’s fourth highly researched book on contemporary slavery. The novel is shortlisted for the Financial Times Business Book of the Year award. Image provided.

"Cobalt Red" is an uncompromising exposé that investigates the human rights violations within the Congo's cobalt mining industry and amplifies the powerful testimonies of the Congolese people affected by it. Kara “traveled deep into cobalt territory to document the testimonies of the people living, working, and dying for cobalt. To uncover the truth about brutal mining practices, Kara investigated militia-controlled mining areas, traced the supply chain of child-mined cobalt from toxic pit to consumer-facing tech giants, and gathered shocking testimonies of people who endure immense suffering and even die mining cobalt.”

Kara is a researcher, activist, and author on modern slavery. He is a British Academy Global Professor and a visiting lecturer at the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy. Kara has taught courses on modern slavery at Harvard, Kennedy School, UC Berkeley, and Cornell and has written four non-fiction books on the topic.

Among his many accolades, Kara is a co-winner of the 2010 Frederick Douglass Brook Prize, awarded for the best book written in English on slavery or abolition, for his novel, “Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery.” The novel was adapted into the Hollywood film, “Trafficked.” A feature film inspired by “Cobalt Redis currently in pre-production. 

The book talk is co-hosted by the Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy and the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies

Sarah Louise Schupp is a communications specialist for the Brooks School.


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