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Natures of Colonial Change

Environmental Relations in the Making of the Transkei

Jacob A. Tropp

Publication Year: 2006

In this groundbreaking study, Jacob A. Tropp explores the interconnections between negotiations over the environment and an emerging colonialrelationship in a particular South African context—the Transkei—subsequently the largest of the notorious “homelands” under apartheid.In the late nineteenth century, South Africa’s Cape Colony completed its incorporation of the area beyond the Kei River, known as the Transkei, and began transforming the region into a labor reserve. It simultaneously restructured popular access to local forests, reserving those resources for the benefit of the white settler economy. This placed new constraints on local Africans in accessingresources for agriculture, livestock management, hunting, building materials, fuel, medicine, and ritual practices. Drawing from a diverse array of oral and written sources, Tropp reveals how bargaining over resources—between and among colonial officials, chiefs and headmen, and local African men and women—was interwoven with major changes in local political authority, gendered economic relations, and cultural practices as well as with intense struggles over the very meaning and scope of colonial rule itself.Natures of Colonial Change sheds new light on the colonial era in the Transkei by looking at significant yet neglected dimensions of this history: how both“colonizing” and “colonized” groups negotiated environmental access among and between each other, and how such negotiations helped shape the broader making and meaning of life in the new colonial order.

Published by: Ohio University Press

Front Matter

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Contents

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pp. v-

Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xi

There are many ways to measure how much has gone into this book’s development, but I’ll start with the personal. When I first visited South Africa and the Transkei in 1992—a trip that really sparked my interest in pursuing historical research on the Eastern Cape—I was also intensely curious about ...

Abbreviations

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pp. xiii-xiv

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Introduction: Colonial and Environmental Histories, Past and Present

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pp. 1-28

In the decade or so since the formal unraveling of apartheid in South Africa, some of the nation’s most persistent and intractable tensions have revolved around natural resources. In the territories formerly managed by successive white governments as African labor “reserves,” “Bantustans,” or “homelands,” ...

Part I

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1. Tensions in the Colonial Restructuring of Local Environmental Authority,1880–c. 1915

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pp. 31-62

As the colonial government appropriated Transkeian resources through annexation and the establishment of new administrative institutions, intense disputes emerged over the nature and scope of environmental authority. Paramount chiefs were demoted, commoner headmen were elevated ...

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2. Environmental Entitlements in the New Colonial Order,1888–c. 1905

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pp. 63-88

Alongside the political machinations surrounding the authority structures of resource management, the implementation of colonial forest restrictions entailed complex negotiations within and between African communities and government circles over environmental entitlements. Forest officials, ...

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3. Shifting Terrains of Wood Access in the Early Twentieth Century, 1903–1930s

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pp. 89-121

Beginning in the 1900s, particular changes in the scope and nature of colonial forest control more extensively shaped Africans’ experiences of wood access across the Transkei. Finally enjoying a more secure position in the colonial bureaucracy, the Forest Department garnered stronger administrative ...

Part II

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4. Remapping Historical Landscapes: Forest Species and the Contours of Social and Cultural Life

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pp. 125-144

There were many realities shaping Africans’ experiences of and responses to resource access in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries outside of the colonial changes to political economies and ecologies described thus far. People participated in and adjusted to complex social and cultural ...

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5. The Python and the Crying Tree: Commentaries on the Nature of Colonial and Environmental Power

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pp. 145-159

Exploring in detail the negotiated cultural meaning of particular landscapes in the early colonial Transkei is often difficult. Oral sources provide crucial insights into local perspectives on the cultural significance of various forest resources and the history of state resource interventions, yet their ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 160-166

The various historical developments and processes described in this book—from people contending with political-ecological restructuring and gendered changes in economies and entitlements to the meaning and use of resources in diverse social and cultural practices—reveal many linked ...

Notes

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pp. 167-233

Bibliography

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pp. 235-261

Index

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pp. 263-268


E-ISBN-13: 9780821442272
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821416990

Publication Year: 2006

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Indigenous peoples -- Ecology -- South Africa -- Transkei -- History.
  • Indigenous peoples -- South Africa -- Transkei -- Social conditions.
  • Forest ecology -- South Africa -- Transkei.
  • Landscape changes -- South Africa -- Transkei.
  • Europe -- Colonies -- Africa.
  • Transkei (South Africa) -- Colonization.
  • Transkei (South Africa) -- Environmental conditions.
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