We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Wielding the Ax

State Forestry and Social Conflict in Tanzania, 1820-2000

Thaddeus Sunseri

Publication Year: 2009

Forests have been at the fault lines of contact between African peasant communities in the Tanzanian coastal hinterland and outsiders for almost two centuries. In recent decades, a global call for biodiversity preservation has been the main challenge to Tanzanians and their forests.

Thaddeus Sunseri uses the lens of forest history to explore some of the most profound transformations in Tanzania from the nineteenth century to the present. He explores anticolonial rebellions, the world wars, the depression, the Cold War, oil shocks, and nationalism through their intersections with and impacts on Tanzania’s coastal forests and woodlands. In Wielding the Ax, forest history becomes a microcosm of the origins, nature, and demise of colonial rule in East Africa and of the first fitful decades of independence.

Wielding the Ax is a story of changing constellations of power over forests, beginning with African chiefs and forest spirits, both known as “ax–wielders,” and ending with international conservation experts who wield scientific knowledge as a means to controlling forest access. The modern international concern over tropical deforestation cannot be understood without an awareness of the long–term history of these forest struggles.

Published by: Ohio University Press

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (158.7 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (96.4 KB)
pp. v-vi


pdf iconDownload PDF (77.4 KB)
pp. vii-viii


pdf iconDownload PDF (150.4 KB)
pp. ix-xxvi


pdf iconDownload PDF (78.6 KB)
p. xxviii-xxviii

Author’s Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF (89.6 KB)
pp. xxix-xxx


pdf iconDownload PDF (42.0 KB)
pp. xxxi

read more

1 The Ax and the Copal Tree Forests and Political Consolidation in the Coastal Hinterland, ca. 1820–90

pdf iconDownload PDF (427.2 KB)
pp. 34-58

IN 1845 the French explorer Maizan proceeded inland from the eastern African coastal port of Bagamoyo into Uzaramo, seeking to open up the mainland opposite Zanzibar to French trade.1 For some time French at Zanzibar had despaired of their secondary trade status in relation to...

read more

2 Colonizing the Mangroves of German East Africa, 1890–1914

pdf iconDownload PDF (333.7 KB)
pp. 59-82

IN MAY 1891 the new German government in East Africa issued an ordinance that regulated tree cutting throughout German East Africa, even before most of the mainland had been conquered.1 The ordinance aimed primarily to rationalize fee collection on the most profitable export timber, especially mangrove poles, which had for centuries been a mainstay...

read more

3 Insurgency in the Coastal Forests, 1904-14

pdf iconDownload PDF (381.4 KB)
pp. 83-107

IN JULY 1905 several hundred Matumbi insurgents emerged from Naminangu Forest, recently designated a colonial forest reserve, to attack Samanga town, south of the Rufiji Delta. They burned the plantations and property of influential Arabs, Indians, and a German settler and threatened....

read more

4 State Forestry in a Colonial Backwater, 1920-40

pdf iconDownload PDF (274.8 KB)
pp. 108-129

IN 1933, Yusuf Mlanzi cut down a mninga tree to make a “fancy bed and table legs.”1 Because mninga was a first-schedule species, protected on account of its high value, Mlanzi needed a permit to cut it, even outside forest reserves. Mlanzi refused to tell the African forest guard who...

read more

5 Forestry and Forced Resettlement in Colonial Tanzania, 1920-50

pdf iconDownload PDF (335.4 KB)
pp. 130-149

A CENTRAL aim of British policy in Tanganyika was to resettle peasants who farmed in forests and woodlands into concentrated “closer settlements.” Colonial officials believed that dispersed peasant settlements undermined agricultural modernization and deprived the state of labor...

read more

6 Forestry Unbound Reservation and Resistance from World War II to Independence, 1946–61

pdf iconDownload PDF (331.7 KB)
pp. 150-175

IN 1951 the Ruponda district officer informed the chief of Liwale that the Forest Department had marked out a twenty-three-hundred-squarekilometer forest reserve, called Angai, on woodlands south of Liwale town.1 The proposal mandated the expulsion of farmers from some...

read more

Creating Modern Tanzanians State Forestry from Uhuru through Ujamaa, 1961–80

pdf iconDownload PDF (263.1 KB)
pp. 176-196

AFTER 1960 the African elite who came to control Tanzania set a modernization agenda that was a mixture of late-colonial developmentalism and African nationalism. TANU quickly disempowered the class of chiefs that had served as colonial functionaries and created an ideology of secular...

read more

8 Biodiversity Preservation and Emergent Forest Conflicts, 1980–Present

pdf iconDownload PDF (298.6 KB)
pp. 197-217

THE 1980s began with a revolutionary departure from the colonial model of forest exploitation, one that viewed forests and woodlands as more than the sum of their wood mass. The emergent view valued forests as distinct biota that harbored unique plant and animal species.1 From the late 1970s...


pdf iconDownload PDF (417.7 KB)
pp. 185-248


pdf iconDownload PDF (79.8 KB)
pp. 249-252


pdf iconDownload PDF (244.9 KB)
pp. 253-282


pdf iconDownload PDF (152.2 KB)
pp. 283-293

E-ISBN-13: 9780821443965
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821418659

Publication Year: 2009