The Old Northwest -- the region now known as the Midwest -- has been largely overlooked in American cultural history, represented as a place smoothly assimilated into the expanding, manifestly-destined nation. An American Colony: Regionalism and the Roots of Midwestern Culture studies the primary texts and principal conflicts of the settlement of the Old Northwest to reveal that its entry into the nation's culture was not without problems. In fact, Edward Watts argues that it is best understood as a colony of the United States, just as the eastern states were colonies of the British Empire.
Reconsidered as a colony, the Old Northwest becomes a crucible revealing the complex entanglement of local, indigenous, and regional interests with the coercions of racism, nationalism, and imperialism. This conflicted setting, like those of all settlement colonies, was beset by competing views of local identity, especially as they came to contradict writers from the eastern seaboard.
Using postcolonial theories developed to describe other settlement colonies, An American Colony identifies the Old Northwest as a colony and its culture as less than fully participating in either the nation's or its own writing and identity. This embedded sense of cultural inferiority, Watts argues, haunts Midwestern culture even today.
When the United States took control of the Philippines and Puerto Rico in the wake of the Spanish-American War, it declared that it would transform its new colonies through lessons in self-government and the ways of American-style democracy. In both territories, U.S. colonial officials built extensive public school systems, and they set up American-style elections and governmental institutions. The officials aimed their lessons in democratic government at the political elite: the relatively small class of the wealthy, educated, and politically powerful within each colony. While they retained ultimate control for themselves, the Americans let the elite vote, hold local office, and formulate legislation in national assemblies.
American Empire and the Politics of Meaning is an examination of how these efforts to provide the elite of Puerto Rico and the Philippines a practical education in self-government played out on the ground in the early years of American colonial rule, from 1898 until 1912. It is the first systematic comparative analysis of these early exercises in American imperial power. The sociologist Julian Go unravels how American authorities used “culture” as both a tool and a target of rule, and how the Puerto Rican and Philippine elite received, creatively engaged, and sometimes silently subverted the Americans’ ostensibly benign intentions. Rather than finding that the attempt to transplant American-style democracy led to incommensurable “culture clashes,” Go assesses complex processes of cultural accommodation and transformation. By combining rich historical detail with broader theories of meaning, culture, and colonialism, he provides an innovative study of the hidden intersections of political power and cultural meaning-making in America’s earliest overseas empire.
This ground-breaking collection of new interviews, critical essays, and commentary explores South Asian identity and culture. Sensitive to the false homogeneity implied by "South Asian," "diaspora," "postcolonial," and "Asian American," the contributors attempt to unpack these terms. By examining the social, economic, and historical particularities of people who live "between the lines"—on and between borders—they reinstate questions of power and privilege, agency and resistance. As South Asians living in the United States and Canada, each to some degree must reflect on the interaction of the personal "I," the collective "we," and the world beyond.
The South Asian scholars gathered together in this volume speak from a variety of theoretical perspectives; in the essays and interviews that cross the boundaries of conventional academic disciplines, they engage in intense, sometimes contentious, debate.
Contributors: Meena Alexander, Gauri Viswanathan, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Amritjit Singh, M. G. Vassanji, Sohail Inayatullah, Ranita Chatterjee, Benita Mehta, Sanjoy Majumder, Mahasveta Barua, Sukeshi Kamra, Samir Dayal, Pushpa Naidu Parekh, Indrani Mitra, Huma Ibrahim, Amitava Kumar, Shantanu DuttaAhmed, Uma Parameswaran.
In the series Asian American History and Culture, edited by Sucheng Chan, David Palumbo-Liu, Michael Omi, K. Scott Wong, and Linda Trinh Võ.
Tudor explains how many African peoples came to think of themselves as descendants of the ancient tribes of Israel. Pursuing medieval and modern race narratives over a millennium in which Jews were cast as black and black Africans were cast as Jews, he reveals a complex interaction between religious and racial labels and their political uses.
Black Skin, White Coats is a history of psychiatry in Nigeria from the 1950s to the 1980s. Working in the contexts of decolonization and anticolonial nationalism, Nigerian psychiatrists sought to replace racist colonial psychiatric theories about the psychological inferiority of Africans with a universal and egalitarian model focusing on broad psychological similarities across cultural and racial boundaries. Particular emphasis is placed on Dr. T. Adeoye Lambo, the first indigenous Nigerian to earn a specialty degree in psychiatry in the United Kingdom in 1954. Lambo returned to Nigeria to become the medical superintendent of the newly founded Aro Mental Hospital in Abeokuta, Nigeria’s first “modern” mental hospital. At Aro, Lambo began to revolutionize psychiatric research and clinical practice in Nigeria, working to integrate “modern” western medical theory and technologies with “traditional” cultural understandings of mental illness. Lambo’s research focused on deracializing psychiatric thinking and redefining mental illness in terms of a model of universal human similarities that crossed racial and cultural divides.
Black Skin, White Coats is the first work to focus primarily on black Africans as producers of psychiatric knowledge and as definers of mental illness in their own right. By examining the ways that Nigerian psychiatrists worked to integrate their psychiatric training with their indigenous backgrounds and cultural and civic nationalisms, Black Skin, White Coats provides a foil to Frantz Fanon’s widely publicized reactionary articulations of the relationship between colonialism and psychiatry. Black Skin, White Coats is also on the cutting edge of histories of psychiatry that are increasingly drawing connections between local and national developments in late-colonial and postcolonial settings and international scientific networks. Heaton argues that Nigerian psychiatrists were intimately aware of the need to engage in international discourses as part and parcel of the transformation of psychiatry at home.
Brazilian-African Diaspora in Ghana is a fresh approach, challenging both pre-existing and established notions of the African Diaspora by engaging new regions, conceptualizations, and articulations that move the field forward. This book examines the untold story of freed slaves from Brazil who thrived socially, culturally, and economically despite the challenges they encountered after they settled in Ghana. Kwame Essien goes beyond the one-dimensional approach that only focuses on British abolitionists’ funding of freed slaves’ resettlements in Africa. The new interpretation of reverse migrations examines the paradox of freedom in discussing how emancipated Brazilian-Africans came under threat from British colonial officials who introduced stringent land ordinances that deprived the freed Brazilian- Africans from owning land, particularly “Brazilian land.” Essien considers anew contention between the returnees and other entities that were simultaneously vying for control over social, political, commercial, and religious spaces in Accra and tackles the fluidity of memory and how it continues to shape Ghana’s history. The ongoing search for lost connections with the support of the Brazilian government—inspiring multiple generations of Tabom (offspring of the returnees) to travel across the Atlantic and back, especially in the last decade—illustrates the unending nature of the transatlantic diaspora journey and its impacts.
Building the Devil’s Empire is the first comprehensive history of New Orleans’s early years, tracing the town’s development from its origins in 1718 to its revolt against Spanish rule in 1768. Shannon Lee Dawdy’s picaresque account of New Orleans’s wild youth features a cast of strong-willed captives, thin-skinned nobles, sharp-tongued women, and carousing travelers. But she also widens her lens to reveal the port city’s global significance, examining its role in the French Empire and the Caribbean, and she concludes that by exemplifying a kind of rogue colonialism—where governments, outlaws, and capitalism become entwined—New Orleans should prompt us to reconsider our notions of how colonialism works.
"[A] penetrating study of the colony's founding."—Nation
“A brilliant and spirited reinterpretation of the emergence of French New Orleans. Dawdy leads us deep into the daily life of the city, and along the many paths that connected it to France, the North American interior, and the Greater Caribbean. A major contribution to our understanding of the history of the Americas and of the French Atlantic, the work is also a model of interdisciplinary research and analysis, skillfully bringing together archival research, archaeology, and literary analysis.”—Laurent Dubois, Duke University
Historians of colonial Africa have largely regarded the decade of the Great Depression as a period of intense exploitation and colonial inactivity. In Colonial Meltdown, Moses E. Ochonu challenges this conventional interpretation by mapping the determined, at times violent, yet instructive responses of Northern Nigeria’s chiefs, farmers, laborers, artisans, women, traders, and embryonic elites to the British colonial mismanagement of the Great Depression. Colonial Meltdown explores the unraveling of British colonial power at a moment of global economic crisis.
Ochonu shows that the economic downturn made colonial exploitation all but impossible and that this dearth of profits and surpluses frustrated the colonial administration which then authorized a brutal regime of grassroots exactions and invasive intrusions. The outcomes were as harsh for Northern Nigerians as those of colonial exploitation in boom years.
Northern Nigerians confronted colonial economic recovery measures and their agents with a variety of strategies. ColonialMeltdown analyzes how farmers, women, laborers, laid-off tin miners, and Northern Nigeria’s emergent elite challenged and rebelled against colonial economic recovery schemes with evasive trickery, defiance, strategic acts of revenge, and criminal self-help and, in the process, exposed the weak underbelly of the colonial system.
Combined with the economic and political paralysis of colonial bureaucrats in the face of crisis, these African responses underlined the fundamental weakness of the colonial state, the brittleness of its economic mission, and the limits of colonial coercion and violence. This atmosphere of colonial collapse emboldened critics of colonial policies who went on to craft the rhetorical terms on which the anticolonial struggle of the post–World War II period was fought out.
In the current climate of global economic anxieties, Ochonu’s analysis will enrich discussions on the transnational ramifications of economic downturns. It will also challenge the pervasive narrative of imperial economic success.
It is often forgotten that anthropology--the scientific study of cultural difference--arose from situations that required a practical management of cultural differences. Out of the practical contexts of colonial contact--administration, mission, nationalism, policing, settler cultivation, tourism, warfare--emerged methods, and images of otherness, that inform anthropological notions of cultural difference to this day.
The essays in this volume share the assumption that "ethnography," far from being the unique purview of anthropology, is a broader field of practice out of which and alongside which anthropology attempted to distinguish itself as a scientific discipline. They explore a variety of situations in colonial South and Southeast Asia and Africa and in the treatment of the indigenous inhabitants of North America and Australia to provide genealogies of present-day anthropological practices, tracing them back to the subjects of colonial ethnography.
This book introduces into the history of anthropology many of the insights developed in recent studies in history, cultural studies, and the anthropology of colonialism. It can serve as a course book in the history of anthropology and the anthropology of colonialism, while at the same time addressing a much larger audience of students of colonial history, of the history of science and modernity, and of globalization.
Peter Pels is Lecturer in Anthropology, University of Amsterdam. Oscar Salemink is Program Officer for Social Sciences and Humanities, The Ford Foundation-Vietnam.
In Colonial Transactions Florence Bernault moves beyond the racial divide that dominates colonial studies of Africa. Instead, she illuminates the strange and frightening imaginaries that colonizers and colonized shared on the ground. Bernault looks at Gabon from the late nineteenth century to the present, historicizing the most vivid imaginations and modes of power in Africa today: French obsessions with cannibals, the emergence of vampires and witches in the Gabonese imaginary, and the use of human organs for fetishes. Struggling over objects, bodies, agency, and values, colonizers and colonized entered relations that are better conceptualized as "transactions." Together they also shared an awareness of how the colonial situation broke down moral orders and forced people to use the evil side of power. This foreshadowed the ways in which people exercise agency in contemporary Africa, as well as the proliferation of magical fears and witchcraft anxieties in present-day Gabon. Overturning theories of colonial and postcolonial nativism, this book is essential reading for historians and anthropologists of witchcraft, power, value, and the body.
"This history is . . . the first fully-fleshed story of African Nairobi in all of its complexity which foregrounds African experiences. Given the overwhelming white dominance in the written sources, it is a remarkable achievement."—Claire Robertson, International Journal of African Historical Studies
"White's book . . . takes a unique approach to a largely unexplored aspect of African History. It enhances our understanding of African social history, political economy, and gender studies. It is a book that deserves to be widely read."—Elizabeth Schmidt, American Historical Review
During the colonial period in Guyana, the country’s coastal lands were worked by enslaved Africans and indentured Indians. In Creole Indigeneity, Shona N. Jackson investigates how their descendants, collectively called Creoles, have remade themselves as Guyana’s new natives, displacing indigenous peoples in the Caribbean through an extension of colonial attitudes and policies.
Looking particularly at the nation’s politically fraught decades from the 1950s to the present, Jackson explores aboriginal and Creole identities in Guyanese society. Through government documents, interviews, and political speeches, she reveals how Creoles, though unable to usurp the place of aboriginals as First Peoples in the New World, nonetheless managed to introduce a new, more socially viable definition of belonging, through labor. The very reason for bringing enslaved and indentured workers into Caribbean labor became the organizing principle for Creoles’ new identities.
Creoles linked true belonging, and so political and material right, to having performed modern labor on the land; labor thus became the basis for their subaltern, settler modes of indigeneity—a contradiction for belonging under postcoloniality that Jackson terms “Creole indigeneity.” In doing so, her work establishes a new and productive way of understanding the relationship between national power and identity in colonial, postcolonial, and anticolonial contexts.
Winner of the 2017 Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize
Winner of the 2016 American Historical Association’s Wesley-Logan Prize in African diaspora
Finalist for the 2016 Fage and Oliver Prize from the African Studies Association of the UK
Interracial sex mattered to the British colonial state in West Africa. In Crossing the Color Line, Carina E. Ray goes beyond this fact to reveal how Ghanaians shaped and defined these powerfully charged relations. The interplay between African and European perspectives and practices, argues Ray, transformed these relationships into key sites for consolidating colonial rule and for contesting its hierarchies of power. With rigorous methodology and innovative analyses, Ray brings Ghana and Britain into a single analytic frame to show how intimate relations between black men and white women in the metropole became deeply entangled with those between black women and white men in the colony in ways that were profoundly consequential.
Based on rich archival evidence and original interviews, the book moves across different registers, shifting from the micropolitics of individual disciplinary cases brought against colonial officers who “kept” local women to transatlantic networks of family, empire, and anticolonial resistance. In this way, Ray cuts to the heart of how interracial sex became a source of colonial anxiety and nationalist agitation during the first half of the twentieth century.
When you consider the size of Korea’s population and the breadth of its territory, it’s easy to see that this small region has played a disproportionately large role in twentieth-century history. The peninsula has experienced colonial submission at the hands of Japan, occupation by the United States and the Soviet Union, war, and a national division that continues today.
Cuisine, Colonialism and Cold War traces these developments as they played out in an unusual sphere: Korea’s national cuisine, which is savored for its diversity of ingredients and flavor. Katarzyna J. Cwiertka shows that many foods and dietary practices identified as Korean have been created or influenced by its colonial encounters, and she uncovers how the military and the Cold War had an impact on diet in both the North and South. Surveying the manufacture and consumption of rice and soy sauce, the rise of restaurants, wartime food, and the 1990s famine that still affects North Korea, Cwiertka illuminates the persistent legacy of Japanese rule and the consequences of armed conflicts and the Cold War. Bringing us closer to the Korean people and their daily lives, this book shines new light on critical issues in the social history of this peninsula.
This is a sharply observed assessment of the history of the last half century by a distinguished group of historians of Kenya. At the same time the book is a courageous reflection in the dilemmas of African nationhood.
Professor B. A. Ogot says:
“The main purpose of the book is to show that decolonization does not only mean the transfer of alien power to sovereign nationhood; it must also entail the liberation of the worlds of spirit and culture, as well as economics and politics.
“The book also raises a more fundamental question, that is: How much independence is available to any state, national economy or culture in today’s world? It asks how far are Africa’s miseries linked to the colonial past and to the process of decolonization?
“In particular the book raises the basic question of how far Kenya is avoidably neo-colonial? And what does neo-colonial dependence mean? The book answers these questions by discussing the dynamic between the politics of decolonization, the social history of class formation and the economics of dependence. The book ends with a provocative epilogue discussing the transformation of the post-colonial state from a single-party to a multi-party system.”
Empire and Underworld
Miranda Frances Spieler Harvard University Press, 2011 Library of Congress F2462.S69 2011 | Dewey Decimal 988.2
The French Revolution invented the notion of the citizen, but it also invented the noncitizen—the person whose rights were nonexistent. The South American outpost of Guiana became a depository for these outcasts of the new French citizenry, and an experimental space for the exercise of new kinds of power and violence against marginal groups.
Psychiatrist, philosopher, and revolutionary, Frantz Fanon is one of the most important intellectuals of the twentieth century. He presented powerful critiques of racism, colonialism, and nationalism in his classic books, Black Skin, White Masks (1952) and The Wretched of the Earth (1961). This biography reintroduces Fanon for a new generation of readers, revisiting these enduring themes while also arguing for those less appreciated—namely, his anti-Manichean sensibility and his personal ethic of radical empathy, both of which underpinned his utopian vision of a new humanism. Written with clarity and passion, Christopher J. Lee’s account ultimately argues for the pragmatic idealism of Frantz Fanon and his continued importance today.
As rich as the development of the Spanish and Portuguese languages has been in Latin America, no single book has attempted to chart their complex history. Gathering essays by sociohistorical linguists working across the region, Salikoko S. Mufwene does just that in this book. Exploring the many different contact points between Iberian colonialism and indigenous cultures, the contributors identify the crucial parameters of language evolution that have led to today’s state of linguistic diversity in Latin America.
The essays approach language development through an ecological lens, exploring the effects of politics, economics, cultural contact, and natural resources on the indigenization of Spanish and Portuguese in a variety of local settings. They show how languages adapt to new environments, peoples, and practices, and the ramifications of this for the spread of colonial languages, the loss or survival of indigenous ones, and the way hybrid vernaculars get situated in larger political and cultural forces. The result is a sophisticated look at language as a natural phenomenon, one that meets a host of influences with remarkable plasticity.
In The Mark of Rebels Barry Robinson offers a new look at Mexican Independence from the perspective of an indigenous population caught in the heart of the struggle. During the conquest and settlement of Mexico’s Western Sierra Madre, Spain’s indigenous allies constructed an indio fronterizo identity for their ethnically diverse descendants. These communities used their special status to maintain a measure of autonomy during the colonial era, but the cultural shifts of the late colonial period radically transformed the relationship between these indios fronterizos and their neighbors.
Marshalling an extensive array of archival material from Mexico, the United States, and Spain, Robinson shows that indio fronterizo participation in the Mexican wars of independence grafted into the larger Hidalgo Revolt through alignment with creole commanders. Still, a considerable gulf existed between the aims of indigenous rebels and the creole leadership. Consequently, the privileges that the indios fronterizos sought to preserve continued to diminish, unable to survive either the late colonial reforms of the Spanish regime or creole conceptions of race and property in the formation of the new nation-state.
This story suggests that Mexico’s transition from colony to nation can only be understood by revisiting the origins of the colonial system and by recognizing the role of Spain’s indigenous allies in both its construction and demolition. The study relates events in the region to broader patterns of identity, loyalty, and subversion throughout the Americas, providing insight into the process of mestizaje that is commonly understood to have shaped Latin America. It also foreshadows the popular conservatism of the nineteenth century and identifies the roots of post-colonial social unrest.
This book provides new context for scholars, historians, ethnographers, anthropologists, and anyone interested in the history of Mexico, colonization, Native Americans, and the Age of Revolutions.
In Motherless Tongues, Vicente L. Rafael examines the vexed relationship between language and history gleaned from the workings of translation in the Philippines, the United States, and beyond. Moving across a range of colonial and postcolonial settings, he demonstrates translation's agency in the making and understanding of events. These include nationalist efforts to vernacularize politics, U.S. projects to weaponize languages in wartime, and autobiographical attempts by area studies scholars to translate the otherness of their lives amid the Cold War. In all cases, translation is at war with itself, generating divergent effects. It deploys as well as distorts American English in counterinsurgency and colonial education, for example, just as it re-articulates European notions of sovereignty among Filipino revolutionaries in the nineteenth century and spurs the circulation of text messages in a civilian-driven coup in the twenty-first. Along the way, Rafael delineates the untranslatable that inheres in every act of translation, asking about the politics and ethics of uneven linguistic and semiotic exchanges. Mapping those moments where translation and historical imagination give rise to one another, Motherless Tongues shows how translation, in unleashing the insurgency of language, simultaneously sustains and subverts regimes of knowledge and relations of power.
After the United States invaded Puerto Rico in 1898, the new unincorporated territory sought to define its future. Seeking to shape the next generation and generate popular support for colonial rule, U.S. officials looked to education as a key venue for promoting the benefits of Americanization. At the same time, public schools became a site where Puerto Rican teachers, parents, and students could formulate and advance their own projects for building citizenship. In Negotiating Empire, Solsiree del Moral demonstrates how these colonial intermediaries aimed for regeneration and progress through education.
Rather than seeing U.S. empire in Puerto Rico during this period as a contest between two sharply polarized groups, del Moral views their interaction as a process of negotiation. Although educators and families rejected some tenets of Americanization, such as English-language instruction, they also redefined and appropriated others to their benefit to increase literacy and skills required for better occupations and social mobility. Pushing their citizenship-building vision through the schools, Puerto Ricans negotiated a different school project—one that was reformist yet radical, modern yet traditional, colonial yet nationalist.
The essays in this volume examine, from a historical perspective, how contested notions of modernity, civilization, and being governed were envisioned through photography in early twentieth-century Indonesia, a period when the Dutch colonial regime was implementing a liberal reform program known as the Ethical Policy. The contributors reveal how the camera evoked diverse, often contradictory modes of envisioning an ethically governed colony, one in which the very concepts of modernity and civilization were subject to dispute.
How were indigenous social practices deemed queer and aberrant by colonial forces?
In Queering Colonial Natal, T.J. Tallie travels to colonial Natalestablished by the British in 1843, today South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal provinceto show how settler regimes “queered” indigenous practices. Defining them as threats to the normative order they sought to impose, they did so by delimiting Zulu polygamy; restricting alcohol access, clothing, and even friendship; and assigning only Europeans to government schools.
Using queer and critical indigenous theory, this book critically assesses Natal (where settlers were to remain a minority) in the context of the global settler colonial project in the nineteenth century to yield a new and engaging synthesis. Tallie explores the settler colonial history of Natal’s white settlers and how they sought to establish laws and rules for both whites and Africans based on European mores of sexuality and gender. At the same time, colonial archives reveal that many African and Indian people challenged such civilizational claims.
Ultimately Tallie argues that the violent collisions between Africans, Indians, and Europeans in Natal shaped the conceptions of race and gender that bolstered each group’s claim to authority.
The geopolitical influence of the United States informs the processes of racialization in Puerto Rico, including the construction of black places. In Scripts of Blackness, Isar P. Godreau explores how Puerto Rican national discourses about race--created to overcome U.S. colonial power--simultaneously privilege whiteness, typecast blackness, and silence charges of racism.
Based on an ethnographic study of the barrio of San Antón in the city of Ponce, Scripts of Blackness examines institutional and local representations of blackness as developing from a power-laden process that is inherently selective and political, not neutral or natural. Godreau traces the presumed benevolence or triviality of slavery in Puerto Rico, the favoring of a Spanish colonial whiteness (under a hispanophile discourse), and the insistence on a harmonious race mixture as discourses that thrive on a presumed contrast with the United States that also characterize Puerto Rico as morally superior. In so doing, she outlines the debates, social hierarchies, and colonial discourses that inform the racialization of San Antón and its residents as black.
Mining ethnographic materials and anthropological and historical research, Scripts of Blackness provides powerful insights into the critical political, economic, and historical context behind the strategic deployment of blackness, whiteness, and racial mixture.
Working with the image of the Indian shaman as Wild Man, Taussig reveals not the magic of the shaman but that of the politicizing fictions creating the effect of the real.
"This extraordinary book . . . will encourage ever more critical and creative explorations."—Fernando Coronil, [I]American Journal of Sociology[/I]
"Taussig has brought a formidable collection of data from arcane literary, journalistic, and biographical sources to bear on . . . questions of evil, torture, and politically institutionalized hatred and terror. His intent is laudable, and much of the book is brilliant, both in its discovery of how particular people perpetrated evil and others interpreted it."—Stehen G. Bunker, Social Science Quarterly
Rebellions broke out in many areas of South Africa shortly after the institution of white rule in the late nineteenth century and continued into the next century. However, distrust of the colonial regime reached a new peak in the mid-twentieth century, when revolts erupted across a wide area of rural South Africa. All these uprisings were rooted in grievances over taxes. Rebels frequently invoked supernatural powers for assistance and accused government officials of using witchcraft to enrich themselves and to harm ordinary people.
As Sean Redding observes in Sorcery and Sovereignty, beliefs in witchcraft and supernatural powers were part of the political rhetoric; the system of taxation—with all its prescribed interactions between ruler and ruled—was intimately connected to these supernatural beliefs.
In this fascinating study, Redding examines how black South Africans' beliefs in supernatural powers, along with both economic and social change in the rural areas, resulted in specific rebellions and how gender relations in black South African rural families changed. Sorcery and Sovereignty explores the intersection of taxation, political attitudes, and supernatural beliefs among black South Africans, shedding light on some of the most significant issues in the history of colonized Africa.
Puerto Rico is often left out of conversations on migration and transnationalism within the Latino context. Sponsored Migration: The State and Puerto Rican Postwar Migration to the United States by Edgardo Meléndez seeks to rectify this oversight, serving as a comprehensive study of the factors affecting Puerto Rican migration to the United States from the late 1940s to the 1960s. Examining the consequences of the perceived problem of Puerto Rican overpopulation as well as the cost of U.S. imperialism on the lives of Puerto Rican workers, Meléndez scrutinizes Puerto Rican migration in the postwar period as a microcosm of the political history of migration throughout Latin America.
Sponsored Migration places Puerto Rico’s migration policy in its historical context, examining the central role the Puerto Rican government played in encouraging and organizing migration during the postwar period. Meléndez sheds an important new light on the many ways in which the government intervened in the movement of its people: attempting to provide labor to U.S. agriculture, incorporating migrants into places like New York City, seeking to expand the island’s air transportation infrastructure, and even promoting migration in the public school system. One of the first scholars to explore this topic in depth, Meléndez illuminates how migration influenced U.S. and Puerto Rican relations from 1898 onward.
States of Marriage shows how throughout the colonial period in French Sudan (present-day Mali) the institution of marriage played a central role in how the empire defined its colonial subjects as gendered persons with certain attendant rights and privileges. The book is a modern history of the ideological debates surrounding the meaning of marriage, as well as the associated legal and sociopolitical practices in colonial and postcolonial Mali. It is also the first to use declassified court records regarding colonialist attempts to classify and categorize traditional marriage conventions in the southern region of the country.
In French Sudan, as elsewhere in colonial Africa, the first stage of marriage reform consisted of efforts to codify African marriages, bridewealth transfers, and divorce proceedings in public records, rendering these social arrangements “legible” to the colonial administration. Once this essential legibility was achieved, other, more forceful interventions to control and reframe marriage became possible. This second stage of marriage reform can be traced through transformations in and by the colonial court system, African engagements with state-making processes, and formations of “gender justice.” The latter refers to gender-based notions of justice and legal rights, typically as defined by governing and administrative bodies as well as by socioxadpolitical communities. Gender justice went through a period of favoring the rights of women, to a period of favoring patriarchs, to a period of emphasizing the power of the individual—but all within the context of a paternalistic and restrictive colonial state.
Subject to Colonialism provides a much needed revisionist perspective on the way twentieth-century Africa is viewed and analyzed among scholars. Employing literary, historical, and anthropological techniques, Gaurav Desai attempts to generate a new understanding of issues that permeate discussions of Africa by disrupting the centrality of postcolonial texts and focusing instead on the cultural and intellectual production of colonial Africans. In particular, Desai calls for a reevaluation of the “colonial library”—that set of representations and texts that have collectively “invented” Africa as a locus of difference and alterity. Presenting colonialism not as a singular, monolithic structure but rather as a practice frought with contradictions and tensions, Desai works to historicize the foundation of postcolonialism by decentering both canonical texts and privileged categories of analysis such as race, capitalism, empire, and nation. To achieve this, he focuses on texts that construct or reform—rather than merely reflect—colonialism, placing explicit emphasis on processes, performances, and the practices of everyday life. Reading these texts not merely for the content of their assertions but also for how they were created and received, Desai looks at works such as Jomo Kenyatta’s ethnography of the Gikuyu and Akiga Sai’s history of the Tiv and makes a particular plea for the canonical recuperation of African women’s writing. Scholars in African history, literature, and philosophy, postcolonial studies, literary criticism, and anthropology will welcome publication of this book.
In twentieth-century Kenya, age and gender were powerful cultural and political forces that animated household and generational relationships. They also shaped East Africans’ contact with and influence on emergent colonial and global ideas about age and masculinity. Kenyan men and boys came of age achieving their manhood through changing rites of passage and access to new outlets such as town life, crime, anticolonial violence, and nationalism. And as they did, the colonial government appropriated masculinity and maturity as means of statecraft and control.
In An Uncertain Age, Paul Ocobock positions age and gender at the heart of everyday life and state building in Kenya. He excavates in unprecedented ways how the evolving concept of “youth” motivated and energized colonial power and the movements against it, exploring the masculinities boys and young men debated and performed as they crisscrossed the colony in search of wages or took the Mau Mau oath. Yet he also considers how British officials’ own ideas about masculinity shaped not only young African men’s ideas about manhood but the very nature of colonial rule.
An Uncertain Age joins a growing number of histories that have begun to break down monolithic male identities to push the historiographies of Kenya and empire into new territory.
Growing up in the Maragoli community in Kenya, Kenda Mutongi encountered a perplexing contradiction. While the young teachers at her village school railed against colonialism, many of her elders, including her widowed mother, praised their former British masters. In this moving book, Mutongi explores how both the challenges and contradictions of colonial rule and the frustrations and failures of independence shaped the lives of Maragoli widows and their complex relations with each other, their families, and the larger community.
Throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, rates of widowhood have been remarkably high in Kenya. Yet despite their numbers, widows and their families exist at the margins of society, and their lives act as a barometer for the harsh realities of rural Kenya. Mutongi here argues that widows survive by publicly airing their social, economic, and political problems, their “worries of the heart.” Initially aimed at the men in their community, and then their colonial rulers, this strategy changed after independence as widows increasingly invoked the language of citizenship to demand their rights from the new leaders of Kenya—leaders whose failure to meet the needs of ordinary citizens has led to deep disenchantment and altered Kenyans’ view of their colonial past. An innovative blend of ethnography and historical research, Worries of the Heart is a poignant narrative rich with insights into postcolonial Africa.