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Abolition Revolution
Aviah Day
Pluto Press, 2022
An introductory guide to the roots and contemporary context of, and resistance to carceral politics in Britain


George Floyd's murder in Minneapolis triggered abolitionist shockwaves. Calls to defund the police found receptive ears around the world. Shortly after, Sarah Everard's murder by a serving police officer sparked a national abolitionist movement in Britain. But to abolish the police, prisons and borders, we must confront the legacy of Empire.

Abolition Revolution is a guide to abolitionist politics in Britain, drawing out rich histories of resistance from rebellion in the colonies to grassroots responses to carceral systems today. The authors argue that abolition is key to reconceptualising revolution for our times - linking it with materialist feminisms, anti-capitalist class struggle, internationalist solidarity and anti-colonialism.

Perfect for reading groups and activist meetings, this is an invaluable book for those new to abolitionist politics - whilst simultaneously telling a passionate and authoritative story about the need for abolition and revolution in Britain and globally.

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Acholi Intellectuals
Knowledge, Power, and the Making of Colonial Northern Uganda, 1850–1960
Patrick William Otim
Ohio University Press, 2024
Acholi Intellectuals draws on the writings of homespun historians, interviews with elderly men and women who remember the last days of colonial rule, and government and missionary archives to illuminate the intellectual and political history of the colonial transition in northern Uganda. The book focuses on Acholiland, a place that has been chronically understudied in comparison to Uganda’s rich, fertile, and well-documented south. Southerners there—following the depictions of colonial officials and missionaries—have often regarded northerners as uncultured people lacking ideas. Acholi Intellectuals challenges this prejudice, bringing into view a whole category of men (and a few women) who mediated between indigenous and colonial knowledge systems and inaugurated a new kind of politics. Patrick William Otim studies a category of people—known as healers, messengers, war leaders, poet-musicians, and diplomats—who possessed prestige and power in an older Acholi political logic and who, in the dawning days of colonial government, came to occupy positions of power in the British administration. Otim argues that these Acholi intellectuals were not simply creatures of British colonial self-interest; neither was their power invented by the coercive logic of indirect rule. He asserts instead that people who held moral and social power in the older system were able to transform that strength, under colonial administration, into a new form of political legitimacy.
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Africa in the World
Capitalism, Empire, Nation-State
Frederick Cooper
Harvard University Press, 2014

At the Second World War’s end, it was clear that business as usual in colonized Africa would not resume. W. E. B. Du Bois’s The World and Africa, published in 1946, recognized the depth of the crisis that the war had brought to Europe, and hence to Europe’s domination over much of the globe. Du Bois believed that Africa’s past provided lessons for its future, for international statecraft, and for humanity’s mastery of social relations and commerce. Frederick Cooper revisits a history in which Africans were both empire-builders and the objects of colonization, and participants in the events that gave rise to global capitalism.

Of the many pathways out of empire that African leaders envisioned in the 1940s and 1950s, Cooper asks why they ultimately followed the one that led to the nation-state, a political form whose limitations and dangers were recognized by influential Africans at the time. Cooper takes account of the central fact of Africa’s situation—extreme inequality between Africa and the western world, and extreme inequality within African societies—and considers the implications of this past trajectory for the future. Reflecting on the vast body of research on Africa since Du Bois’s time, Cooper corrects outdated perceptions of a continent often relegated to the margins of world history and integrates its experience into the mainstream of global affairs.

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African Catholic
Decolonization and the Transformation of the Church
Elizabeth A. Foster
Harvard University Press, 2019

Winner of the John Gilmary Shea Prize

A groundbreaking history of how Africans in the French Empire embraced both African independence and their Catholic faith during the upheaval of decolonization, leading to a fundamental reorientation of the Catholic Church.

African Catholic examines how French imperialists and the Africans they ruled imagined the religious future of French sub-Saharan Africa in the years just before and after decolonization. The story encompasses the political transition to independence, Catholic contributions to black intellectual currents, and efforts to alter the church hierarchy to create an authentically “African” church.

Elizabeth Foster recreates a Franco-African world forged by conquest, colonization, missions, and conversions—one that still exists today. We meet missionaries in Africa and their superiors in France, African Catholic students abroad destined to become leaders in their home countries, African Catholic intellectuals and young clergymen, along with French and African lay activists. All of these men and women were preoccupied with the future of France’s colonies, the place of Catholicism in a postcolonial Africa, and the struggle over their personal loyalties to the Vatican, France, and the new African states.

Having served as the nuncio to France and the Vatican’s liaison to UNESCO in the 1950s, Pope John XXIII understood as few others did the central questions that arose in the postwar Franco-African Catholic world. Was the church truly universal? Was Catholicism a conservative pillar of order or a force to liberate subjugated and exploited peoples? Could the church change with the times? He was thinking of Africa on the eve of Vatican II, declaring in a radio address shortly before the council opened, “Vis-à-vis the underdeveloped countries, the church presents itself as it is and as it wants to be: the church of all.”

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African Intellectuals and Decolonization
Nicholas M. Creary
Ohio University Press, 2012
Decades after independence for most African states, the struggle for decolonization is still incomplete, as demonstrated by the fact that Africa remains associated in many Western minds with chaos, illness, and disorder. African and non-African scholars alike still struggle to establish the idea of African humanity, in all its diversity, and to move Africa beyond its historical role as the foil to the West. As this book shows, Africa’s decolonization is an ongoing process across a range of fronts, and intellectuals—both African and non-African—have significant roles to play in that process. The essays collected here examine issues such as representation and retrospection; the roles of intellectuals in the public sphere; and the fundamental question of how to decolonize African knowledges. African Intellectuals and Decolonization outlines ways in which intellectual practice can serve to de-link Africa from its global representation as a debased, subordinated, deviant, and inferior entity. ContributorsLesley Cowling, University of the Witwatersrand Nicholas M. Creary, University at Albany Marlene De La Cruz, Ohio University Carolyn Hamilton, University of Cape Town George Hartley, Ohio University Janet Hess, Sonoma State University T. Spreelin McDonald, Ohio University Ebenezer Adebisi Olawuyi, University of Ibadan Steve Odero Ouma, University of Nairobi Oyeronke Oyewumi, State University of New York at Stony Brook Tsenay Serequeberhan, Morgan State University
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African Leaders of the Twentieth Century
Biko, Selassie, Lumumba, Sankara
Lindy Wilson
Ohio University Press, 2015
This omnibus edition brings together concise and up-to-date biographies of Steve Biko, Emperor Haile Selassie, Patrice Lumumba, and Thomas Sankara. African Leaders of the Twentieth Century will complement courses in history and political science and serve as a useful collection for the general reader. Steve Biko, by Lindy Wilson Steve Biko inspired a generation of black South Africans to claim their true identity and refuse to be a part of their own oppression. This short biography shows how fundamental he was to the reawakening and transformation of South Africa in the second half of the twentieth century and just how relevant he remains. Emperor Haile Selassie, by Bereket Habte Selassie Emperor Haile Selassie was an iconic figure of the twentieth century, a progressive monarch who ruled Ethiopia from 1916 to 1974. The fascinating story of the emperor¹s life is also the story of modern Ethiopia. Patrice Lumumba, by Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja Patrice Lumumba was a leader of the independence struggle in what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Decades after his assassination, Lumumba remains one of the heroes of the twentieth-century Africanindependence movement. Thomas Sankara: An African Revolutionary, by Ernest Harsch Thomas Sankara, often called the African Che Guevara, was president of Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in Africa, until his assassination during the military coup that brought down his government. This is the first English-language book to tell the story of Sankara’s life and struggles.
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African Miracle, African Mirage
Transnational Politics and the Paradox of Modernization in Ivory Coast
Abou B. Bamba
Ohio University Press, 2016

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Ivory Coast was touted as an African miracle, a poster child for modernization and the ways that Western aid and multinational corporations would develop the continent. At the same time, Marxist scholars—most notably Samir Amin—described the capitalist activity in Ivory Coast as empty, unsustainable, and incapable of bringing real change to the lives of ordinary people. To some extent, Amin’s criticisms were validated when, in the 1980s, the Ivorian economy collapsed.

In African Miracle, African Mirage, Abou B. Bamba incorporates economics, political science, and history to craft a bold, transnational study of the development practices and intersecting colonial cultures that continue to shape Ivory Coast today. He considers French, American, and Ivorian development discourses in examining the roles of hydroelectric projects and the sugar, coffee, and cocoa industries in the country’s boom and bust. In so doing, he brings the agency of Ivorians themselves to the fore in a way not often seen in histories of development. Ultimately, he concludes that the “maldevelopment” evident by the mid-1970s had less to do with the Ivory Coast’s “insufficiently modern” citizens than with the conflicting missions of French and American interests within the context of an ever-globalizing world.

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The African Union's Africa
New Pan-African Initiatives in Global Governance
Rita Kiki Edozie
Michigan State University Press, 2014
The African Union’s Africa: New Pan-African Initiatives in Global Governance examines the initiatives of the Pan-African global governance institution the African Union (AU) as the organization and its precursor commemorate their Jubilee as international actors. Taking a unique approach, the book seeks to explain the AU through a theoretical framework referred to as “the African Union phenomenon,” capturing the international organization’s efforts to transform the national politics of Africa as well as to globalize the practice of African politics. The authors examine Africa’s self-determined international norms and values such as Pan-Africanism, African Solutions to African Problems, Hybrid Democracy, Pax Africana, and the African Economic Community to demonstrate that Africa—the world’s least developed region—is composed of crucial values, institutions, agents, actors, and forces that are, through the AU, contributing to the advancement of contemporary global development. The book reveals how in the areas of cultural identity, democracy, security, and economic development Africans are infusing new politics, economics, and cultures into globalization representing the collective will and imprint of African agency, decisions, ideas, identities, practices, and contexts. Via a Pan-African vision, the AU is having both regional and global impact, generating exciting possibilities and complicated challenges.
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African Womanhood in Colonial Kenya, 1900–1950
1900-1950
Tabitha Kanogo
Ohio University Press, 2000

This book explores the history of African womanhood in colonial Kenya. By focussing on key sociocultural institutions and practices around which the lives of women were organized, and on the protracted debates that surrounded these institutions and practices during the colonial period, it investigates the nature of indigenous, mission, and colonial control of African women.

The pertinent institutions and practices include the legal and cultural status of women, clitoridectomy, dowry, marriage, maternity and motherhood, and formal education. By following the effects of the all-pervasive ideological shifts that colonialism produced in the lives of women, the study investigates the diverse ways in which a woman’s personhood was enhanced, diminished, or placed in ambiguous predicaments by the consequences, intended and unintended, of colonial rule as administered by both the colonizers and the colonized. The study thus tries to historicize the reworkings of women’s lives under colonial rule. The transformations that resulted from these reworkings involved the negotiation and redefinition of the meaning of individual liberties and of women’s agency, along with the reconceptualization of kinship relations and of community.

These changes resulted in—and often resulted from—increased mobility for Kenyan women, who were enabled to cross physical, cultural, economic, social, and psychological frontiers that had been closed to them prior to colonial rule. The conclusion to which the experiences of women in colonial Kenya points again and again is that for these women, the exercise of individual agency, whether it was newly acquired or repeatedly thwarted, depended in large measure on the unleashing of forces over which no one involved had control. Over and over, women found opportunities to act amid the conflicting policies, unintended consequences, and inconsistent compromises that characterized colonial rule.

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Africa's Last Colonial Currency
The CFA Franc Story
Fanny Pigeaud
Pluto Press, 2021
Colonialism persists in many African countries due to the continuation of imperial monetary policy. This is the little-known account of the CFA Franc and economic imperialism. The CFA Franc was created in 1945, binding fourteen African states and split into two monetary zones. Why did French colonial authorities create it and how does it work? Why was independence not extended to monetary sovereignty for former French colonies? Through an exploration of the genesis of the currency and an examination of how the economic system works, the authors seek to answer these questions and more. As protests against the colonial currency grow, the need for myth-busting on the CFA Franc is vital and this exposé of colonial infrastructure proves that decolonization is unfinished business.
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Afterimage of the Revolution
Cumann na nGaedheal and Irish Politics, 1922–1932
Jason Knirck
University of Wisconsin Press, 2014
Ascending to power after the Anglo-Irish Treaty and a violent revolution against the United Kingdom, the political party Cumann na nGaedheal governed during the first ten years of the Irish Free State (1922–32). Taking over from the fallen Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith, Cumann na nGaedheal leaders such as W. T. Cosgrave and Kevin O'Higgins won a bloody civil war, created the institutions of the new Free State, and attempted to project abroad the independence of a new Ireland.
            In response to the view that Cumann na nGaedheal was actually a reactionary counterrevolutionary party, Afterimage of the Revolution contends that, in building the new Irish state, the government framed and promoted its policies in terms of ideas inherited from the revolution. In particular, Cumann na nGaedheal emphasized Irish sovereignty, the "Irishness" of the new state, and a strong sense of anticolonialism, all key components of the Sinn Féin party platform during the revolution. Jason Knirck argues that the 1920s must be understood as part of a continuing Irish revolution that led to an eventual independent republic. Drawing on state documents, newspapers, and private papers—including the recently released papers of Kevin O'Higgins—he offers a fresh view of Irish politics in the 1920s and integrates this period more closely with the Irish Revolution.
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Afterlives of Discovery
Speculative Geographies in the Settler Colonial Imaginary
heidi andrea restrepo rhodes
Duke University Press, 2025

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Against Extraction
Indigenous Modernism in the Twin Cities
Matt Hooley
Duke University Press, 2024
In Against Extraction Matt Hooley traces a modern tradition of Ojibwe invention in Minneapolis and St. Paul from the mid-nineteenth century to the present as that tradition emerges in response to the cultural legacies of US colonialism. Hooley shows how Indigenous literary and visual art modernisms challenge the strictures of everyday life and question the ecological, political, and cultural fantasies that make multivalent US colonialism seem inevitable. Hooley analyzes literature and art by Louise Erdrich, William Whipple Warren, David Treuer, George Morrison, and Gerald Vizenor in relation to histories of Indigenous dispossession and occupation, enslavement and Black life, and environmental harm and care. He shows that historical narratives of these cities are intimately bound up with the violence of colonial systems of extraction and that concepts like Indigeneity and sovereignty extend beyond treaty-granted promises of political control. These works, created in opposition and proximity to the extraction of cultural, political, and territorial resources, demonstrate how Indigenous claims to life and land matter to rethinking and unmaking the social and ecological devastations of the colonial world.
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An American Colony
Regionalism and the Roots of Midwestern Culture
Edward Watts
Ohio University Press, 2002

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.

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American Studies as Transnational Practice
Turning toward the Transpacific
Edited by Yuan Shu and Donald E. Pease
Dartmouth College Press, 2016
This wide-ranging collection brings together an eclectic group of scholars to reflect upon the transnational configurations of the field of American studies and how these have affected its localizations, epistemological perspectives, ecological imaginaries, and politics of translation. The volume elaborates on the causes of the transnational paradigm shift in American studies and describes the material changes that this new paradigm has effected during the past two decades. The contributors hail from a variety of postcolonial, transoceanic, hemispheric, and post-national positions and sensibilities, enabling them to theorize a “crossroads of cultures” explanation of transnational American studies that moves beyond the multicultural studies model. Offering a rich and rewarding mix of essays and case studies, this collection will satisfy a broad range of students and scholars.
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The ANC Youth League
Clive Glaser
Ohio University Press, 2012

This brilliant little book tells the story of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League from its origins in the 1940s to the present and the controversies over Julius Malema and his influence in contemporary youth politics. Glaser analyzes the ideology and tactics of its founders, some of whom (notably Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo) later became iconic figures in South African history as well as inspirational figures such as A. P. Mda (father of author Zakes Mda) and Anton Lembede. It shows how the early Youth League gave birth not only to the modern ANC but also to its rival, the Pan Africanist Congress. Dormant for many years, the Youth League reemerged in the transition era under the leadership of Peter Mokaba—infused with the tradition of the militant youth politics of the 1980s. Throughout its history the Youth League has tried to “dynamize” and criticize the ANC from within, while remaining devoted to the mother body and struggling to find a balance between loyalty and rebellion.

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......And the Dogs Were Silent/......Et les chiens se taisaient
Aimé Césaire. Translated and with an introduction by Alex Gil. With a foreword by Brent Hayes Edwards.
Duke University Press, 2024
Available to readers for the first time, Aimé Césaire’s three-act drama . . . . . . And the Dogs Were Silent—written during the Vichy regime in Martinique in 1943 and lost until 2008—dramatizes the Haitian Revolution and the rise and fall of Toussaint Louverture as its heroic leader. This bilingual English and French edition stands apart from Césaire’s more widely known 1946 closet drama. Following the slave revolts that sparked the revolution, Louverture arrives as both prophet and poet, general and visionary. With striking dramatic technique, Césaire retells the revolution in poignant encounters between rebels and colonial forces, guided by a prophetic chorus and Louverture’s steady ethical and political vision. In the last act, we reach the hero’s betrayal, his imprisonment, and his last stand against the lures of compromise. Césaire’s masterwork is a strikingly beautiful and brutal indictment of colonial cruelty and an unabashed celebration of Black rebellion and victory.
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Animal Kingdoms
Hunting, the Environment, and Power in the Indian Princely States
Julie E. Hughes
Harvard University Press, 2013

One summer evening in 1918, a leopard wandered into the gardens of an Indian palace. Roused by the alarms of servants, the prince’s eldest son and his entourage rode elephant-back to find and shoot the intruder. An exciting but insignificant vignette of life under the British Raj, we may think. Yet to the participants, the hunt was laden with symbolism. Carefully choreographed according to royal protocols, recorded by scribes and commemorated by court artists, it was a potent display of regal dominion over men and beasts alike. Animal Kingdoms uncovers the far-reaching cultural, political, and environmental importance of hunting in colonial India.

Julie E. Hughes explores how Indian princes relied on their prowess as hunters to advance personal status and solidify power. Believing that men and animals developed similar characteristics by inhabiting a shared environment, they sought out quarry—fierce tigers, agile boar—with traits they hoped to cultivate in themselves. Largely debarred from military activities under the British, they also used the hunt to establish meaningful links with the historic battlefields and legendary deeds of their ancestors.

Hunting was not only a means of displaying masculinity and heroism, however. Indian rulers strove to present a picture of privileged ease, perched in luxuriously outfitted shooting boxes and accompanied by lavish retinues. Their interest in being sumptuously sovereign was crucial to elevating the prestige of prized game. Animal Kingdoms will inform historians of the subcontinent with new perspectives and captivate readers with descriptions of its magnificent landscapes and wildlife.

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Anti-Indianism in Modern America
A Voice from Tatekeya's Earth
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn
University of Illinois Press, 2000

Addressing Native American studies past, present, and future, the essays in New Indians, Old Wars tackle the discipline head-on, presenting a radical revision of the popular view of the American West in the process. Instead of luxuriating in the West's past glories or accepting the widespread historians' view of it as a shared place, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn argues that the American West should be fundamentally understood as stolen.

Cook-Lynn says that the Indian Wars of Resistance to the nineteenth- and twentieth-century colonial effort to seize native lands and resources must be given standing in the face of the ever-growing imperial narrative of America--because the terror the world is now witnessing may be the direct consequence of events which began in America's earliest dealings with the natives of this continent. Cook-Lynn's story examines the ongoing and perennial relationship of conflict between colonizers and indigenous people, and it is a story that every American must read.

Cook-Lynn understands that the story of the American West teaches the political language of land theft and tyranny. She argues that to remedy this situation, Native American studies must be considered and pursued as its own discipline, rather than as a subset of history or anthropology. She makes an impassioned claim that such a shift, not merely an institutional or theoretical change, could allow Native American studies to play an important role in defending the sovereignty of indigenous nations today.

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Apartheid’s Black Soldiers
Un-national Wars and Militaries in Southern Africa
Lennart Bolliger
Ohio University Press, 2021

New oral histories from Black Namibian and Angolan troops who fought in apartheid South Africa’s security forces reveal their involvement, and its impact on their lives, to be far more complicated than most historical scholarship has acknowledged.

In anticolonial struggles across the African continent, tens of thousands of African soldiers served in the militaries of colonial and settler states. In southern Africa, they often made up the bulk of these militaries and, in some contexts, far outnumbered those who fought in the liberation movements’ armed wings. Despite these soldiers' significant impact on the region’s military and political history, this dimension of southern Africa’s anticolonial struggles has been almost entirely ignored in previous scholarship.

Black troops from Namibia and Angola spearheaded apartheid South Africa’s military intervention in their countries’ respective anticolonial war and postindependence civil war. Drawing from oral history interviews and archival sources, Lennart Bolliger challenges the common framing of these wars as struggles of national liberation fought by and for Africans against White colonial and settler-state armies.

Focusing on three case studies of predominantly Black units commanded by White officers, Bolliger investigates how and why these soldiers participated in South Africa’s security forces and considers the legacies of that involvement. In tackling these questions, he rejects the common tendency to categorize the soldiers as “collaborators” and “traitors” and reveals the un-national facets of anticolonial struggles.

Finally, the book’s unique analysis of apartheid military culture shows how South Africa’s military units were far from monolithic and instead developed distinctive institutional practices, mythologies, and concepts of militarized masculinity.

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An Appeal to the Ladies of Hyderabad
Scandal in the Raj
Benjamin B. Cohen
Harvard University Press, 2019

The dramatic story of Mehdi Hasan and Ellen Donnelly, whose marriage convulsed high society in nineteenth-century India and whose notorious trial and fall reverberated throughout the British Empire, setting the benchmark for Victorian scandals.

In April 1892, a damning pamphlet circulated in the south Indian city of Hyderabad, the capital of the largest and wealthiest princely state in the British Raj. An anonymous writer charged Mehdi Hasan, an aspiring Muslim lawyer from the north, and Ellen Donnelly, his Indian-born British wife, with gross sexual misconduct and deception. The scandal that ensued sent shock waves from Calcutta to London. Who wrote this pamphlet, and was it true?

Mehdi and Ellen had risen rapidly among Hyderabad’s elites. On a trip to London they even met Queen Victoria. Not long after, a scurrilous pamphlet addressed to “the ladies of Hyderabad” charged the couple with propagating a sham marriage for personal gain. Ellen, it was claimed, had been a prostitute, and Mehdi was accused of making his wife available to men who could advance his career. To avenge his wife and clear his name, Mehdi filed suit against the pamphlet’s printer, prompting a trial that would alter their lives.

Based on private letters, courtroom transcripts, secret government reports, and scathing newspaper accounts, Benjamin Cohen’s riveting reconstruction of the couple’s trial and tribulations lays bare the passions that ran across racial lines and the intimate betrayals that doomed the Hasans. Filled with accusations of midnight trysts and sexual taboos, An Appeal to the Ladies of Hyderabad is a powerful reminder of the perils facing those who tried to rewrite society’s rules. In the struggle of one couple, it exposes the fault lines that would soon tear a world apart.

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Archive of Tongues
An Intimate History of Brownness
Moon Charania
Duke University Press, 2023
In Archive of Tongues Moon Charania explores feminine dispossession and the brown diaspora through a reflection on the life of her mother. Drawing on her mother’s memories and stories of migration, violence, sexuality, queerness, domesticity, and the intimate economies of everyday life, Charania conceptualizes her mother’s tongue as an object of theory and an archive of brown intimate life. By presenting a mode of storytelling that is sensual and melancholic, piercing and sharp, Charania recovers otherwise silenced modes of brown mothers’ survival, disobedience, and meaning making that are often only lived out in invisible, intimate spaces, and too often disappear into them. In narrating her mother’s tongue as both metaphor for and material reservoir of other ways of knowing, Charania gestures to the afflictions, limits, and failures of feminist, queer, and postcolonial scholarly interrogations and the consequences of closing the archive of the brown mother.
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The Art of Life in South Africa
Daniel Magaziner
Ohio University Press, 2016

From 1952 to 1981, South Africa’s apartheid government ran an art school for the training of African art teachers at Indaleni, in what is today KwaZulu-Natal. The Art of Life in South Africa is the story of the students, teachers, art, and politics that circulated through a small school, housed in a remote former mission station. It is the story of a community that made its way through the travails of white supremacist South Africa and demonstrates how the art students and teachers made together became the art of their lives.

Daniel Magaziner radically reframes apartheid-era South African history. Against the dominant narrative of apartheid oppression and black resistance, as well as recent scholarship that explores violence, criminality, and the hopeless entanglements of the apartheid state, this book focuses instead on a small group’s efforts to fashion more fulfilling lives for its members and their community through the ironic medium of the apartheid-era school.

There is no book like this in South African historiography. Lushly illustrated and poetically written, it gives us fully formed lives that offer remarkable insights into the now clichéd experience of black life under segregation and apartheid.

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Artificial Africas
Colonial Images in the Times of Globalization
Ruth Mayer
Dartmouth College Press, 2002
“Africa is an artificial entity,” notes Ruth Mayer, “invented and conceived by colonialism.” In this wide-ranging study, Mayer explores the ways in which Western, and especially American, popular culture has manufactured and deployed various images of “Africa,” and how those changing constructions have reflected Western social and political concerns from the era of colonialism to the age of globalization. Mayer mines an enormous array of sources to expose the diverse images and narrative strategies that have been prominent in Western representations of Africa. She ranges authoritatively from King Solomon’s Mines and Tarzan to Khartoum and Greystoke, from Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to Nicholas Roeg’s film version, from Isak Dinesen and Ernest Hemingway to Ishmael Reed and Charles Johnson, from comic books to hip hop acts. In the process, she shows how seemingly stable cultural stereotypes have actually been transformed to reflect changing attitudes, conditions, and fears in the West, “adjusting the symbolic repertory of yesterday to the conceptual and ideological frameworks of today.” Dividing her work into “African Adventures” and “Alternative Africas,” Mayer not only restores an international context to American cultural history, but also shows the ways in which these images have functioned within both white and African American communities. With a deft command of both cultural source materials and current debates, Mayer explores the complex and powerful roles these “artificial Africas” have played in Western culture.
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As Cruel as Anyone Else
Italians, Colonies and Empire
Angelo Del Boca
Seagull Books, 2024
Reveals a dark chapter in the Italian government’s colonial history that has been largely hidden from view.
 
Between the end of the nineteenth century and over the first half of the twentieth, Italy invaded and occupied the Horn of Africa, Libya, and several other territories. Yet recognition of this history of colonial destruction, racist violence, and genocidal aerial and chemical warfare—carried out not only during the Fascist dictatorship but also under preceding liberal governments—has been consistently repressed beneath the myth that the Italians never truly practiced colonialism.
 
The late journalist, historian, novelist, campaigner, and former Resistance fighter Angelo Del Boca dismantles this myth. He expertly narrates episodes of state violence committed by Italians both abroad—from Ethiopia to Slovenia, from China to Libya—and “at home” during the civil war following Unification in the 1860s or when the anti-Fascist Resistance faced off against the Republic of Salò after 1943. Attentive to the losses and pain suffered by all sides in war, Del Boca deftly demonstrates how such violence was not only a tool of domination but has also been central to creating and shaping an Italian “people.”
 
Drawing on a lifetime of interviews as a special correspondent, decades of work in private and state archives, and his own experiences during the Second World War, Del Boca’s popular and influential work has contributed to overturning views of Italian history. Presenting many historical episodes in English for the first time, As Cruel as Anyone Else provides a key to reading contemporary Italy, its place in international politics, and the disturbing permanence of the far-right within mainstream Italian politics.
 
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Assembling Ethnicities in Neoliberal Times
Ethnographic Fictions and Sri Lanka’s War
Nimanthi Perera-Rajasingham
Northwestern University Press, 2019

Assembling Ethnicities in Neoliberal Times: Ethnographic Fictions and Sri Lanka’s War argues that the bloody war fought between the Sri Lankan state and the separatist Tamil Tigers from 1983 to 2009 should be understood as structured and animated by the forces of global capitalism. Using Aihwa Ong’s theorization of neoliberalism as a mobile technology and assemblage, this book explores how contemporary globalization has exacerbated forces of nationalism and racism.

Nimanthi Perera-Rajasingham finds that ethnographic fictions have both internalized certain colonial Orientalist impulses and critically engaged with categories of objective gazing, empiricism, and temporal distancing. She demonstrates that such fictions take seriously the task of bearing witness and documenting the complex productions of ethnic identities and the devastations wrought by warfare. To this end, Assembling Ethnicities
explores colonial-era travel writing by Robert Knox (1681) and Leonard Woolf (1913); contemporary works by Michael Ondaatje, Romesh Gunesekera, Shobasakthi, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, and Thamotharampillai Shanaathanan; and cultural festivals and theater, including vernacular performances of Euripides’s The Trojan Women and women workers’ theater. 

The book interprets contemporary fictions to unpack neoliberalism’s entanglements with nationalism and racism, engaging current issues such as human rights, the pastoral, Tamil militancy, immigrant lives, feminism and nationalism, and postwar developmentalism.

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