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A Black corps d'élite Cover

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A Black corps d'élite

an Egyptian Sudanese conscript battalion with the French Army in Mexico, 1863-1867, and its survivors in subsequent African history

Richard Leslie. Hill

For several years, the armies of Napoleon III deployed some 450 Muslim Sudanese slave soldiers in Veracruz, the port of Mexico City. As in the other case of Western hemisphere military slavery (the West India Regiments, a British unit in existence 1795-1815), the Sudanese were imported from Africa in the hopes that they would better survive the tropical diseases that so terribly afflicted European soldiers. In both cases, the Africans did indeed fulfill these expectations. The mixture of cultures embodied by this event has piqued the interest of several historians, so it is by no means unknown. Hill and Hogg provide a particularly thorough, if unimaginative, account of this exotic interlude, explaining its background, looking in detail at the battle record in Mexico, and figuring out who exactly made up the battalion. Much in their account is odd and interesting, for example, the Sudanese superiority to Austrian troops and their festive nine-day spree in Paris on the emperor's tab. The authors also assess the episode's longer-term impact on the Sudan, showing that the veterans of Mexico, having learnt much from their extended exposure to French military practices, rose quickly in the ranks, then taught these methods to others.


Black Soldiers of the Queen Cover

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Black Soldiers of the Queen

The Natal Native Contingent in the Anglo-Zulu War

Written by P. S. Thompson

Africans who fought alongside the British against the Zulu king.

Building a New South Africa Cover

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Building a New South Africa

One Conversation at a Time

David Thelen and Karie L. Morgan

Once a thriving, multiracial community, the Sophiatown suburb of Johannesburg was home to many famous artists, musicians, and poets. It was also a place where residential apartheid was first put into practice with forced removals, buildings bulldozed, and the construction of new, cheap housing for white public employees. David Thelen and Karie L. Morgan facilitate conversations among today’s Sophiatown residents about how they share spaces, experiences, and values to raise and educate their children, earn a living, overcome crime, and shape their community for the good of all. As residents reflect on the past and the challenges they face in the future, they begin to work together to create a rich, diverse, safe, and welcoming post-Mandela South Africa.

Bulozi under the Luyana Kings Cover

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Bulozi under the Luyana Kings

Political Evolution and State Formation in Pre-Colonial Zambia

Bulozi under the Luyana Kings is a study of the Lozi Kingdom in Western Zambia in the pre-colonial period. The study traces the origins of the Luyana and the Lozi people; the founding of the Luyana Central Kingship and the invasion by the Makololo in the mid-nineteenth century; and ends with the study of the Lozi response to European intrusion at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Bulozi under the Luyana Kings was first published in 1973 by Longman, London. After wide consultations at home and abroad, the book is now republished in its original form.

Chiefs, Priests, and Praise-Singers Cover

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Chiefs, Priests, and Praise-Singers

History, Politics, and Land Ownership in Northern Ghana

Wyatt MacGaffey

In his new book, the eminent anthropologist Wyatt MacGaffey provides an ethnographically enriched history of Dagbon from the fifteenth century to the present, setting that history in the context of the regional resources and political culture of northern Ghana. Chiefs, Priests, and Praise-Singers shows how the history commonly assumed by scholars has been shaped by the prejudices of colonial anthropology, the needs of British indirect rule, and local political agency. The book demonstrates, too, how political agency has shaped the kinship system. MacGaffey traces the evolution of chieftaincy as the sources of power changed and as land ceased to be simply the living space of the dependents of a chief and became a commodity and a resource for development. The internal violence in Dagbon that has been a topic of national and international concern since 2002 is shown to be a product of the interwoven values of tradition, modern Ghanaian politics, modern education, and economic opportunism.

Chocolate Islands Cover

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Chocolate Islands

Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa

Catherine Higgs

In Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa, Catherine Higgs traces the early-twentieth-century journey of the Englishman Joseph Burtt to the Portuguese colony of São Tomé and Príncipe—the chocolate islands—through Angola and Mozambique, and finally to British Southern Africa. Burtt had been hired by the chocolate firm Cadbury Brothers Limited to determine if the cocoa it was buying from the islands had been harvested by slave laborers forcibly recruited from Angola, an allegation that became one of the grand scandals of the early colonial era. Burtt spent six months on São Tomé and Príncipe and a year in Angola. His five-month march across Angola in 1906 took him from innocence and credulity to outrage and activism and ultimately helped change labor recruiting practices in colonial Africa.

This beautifully written and engaging travel narrative draws on collections in Portugal, the United Kingdom, and Africa to explore British and Portuguese attitudes toward work, slavery, race, and imperialism. In a story still familiar a century after Burtt’s sojourn, Chocolate Islands reveals the idealism, naivety, and racism that shaped attitudes toward Africa, even among those who sought to improve the conditions of its workers.

Commemorating and Forgetting Cover

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Commemorating and Forgetting

Challenges for the New South Africa

Martin J. Murray

When the past is painful, as riddled with violence and injustice as it is in postapartheid South Africa, remembrance presents a problem at once practical and ethical: how much of the past to preserve and recollect and how much to erase and forget if the new nation is to ever unify and move forward? The new South Africa’s confrontation of this dilemma is Martin J. Murray’s subject in Commemorating and Forgetting. More broadly, this book explores how collective memory works—how framing events, persons, and places worthy of recognition and honor entails a selective appropriation of the past, not a mastery of history.

How is the historical past made to appear in the present? In addressing these questions, Murray reveals how collective memory is stored and disseminated in architecture, statuary, monuments and memorials, literature, and art—“landscapes of remembrance” that selectively recall and even fabricate history in the service of nation-building. He examines such vehicles of memory in postapartheid South Africa and parses the stories they tell—stories by turn sanitized, distorted, embellished, and compressed. In this analysis, Commemorating and Forgetting marks a critical move toward recognizing how the legacies and impositions of white minority rule, far from being truly past, remain embedded in, intertwined with, and imprinted on the new nation’s here and now.

Cubans in Angola Cover

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Cubans in Angola

South-South Cooperation and Transfer of Knowledge, 1976-1991

Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development Cover

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Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development

Cahora Bassa and Its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965 - 2007

Allen F. Isaacman and Barbara S. Isaacman

Cahora Bassa Dam on the Zambezi River, built in the early 1970s during the final years of Portuguese rule, was the last major infrastructure project constructed in Africa during the turbulent era of decolonization. Engineers and hydrologists praised the dam for its technical complexity and the skills required to construct what was then the world’s fifth-largest mega-dam. Portuguese colonial officials cited benefits they expected from the dam — from expansion of irrigated farming and European settlement, to improved transportation throughout the Zambezi River Valley, to reduced flooding in this area of unpredictable rainfall. “The project, however, actually resulted in cascading layers of human displacement, violence, and environmental destruction. Its electricity benefited few Mozambicans, even after the former guerrillas of FRELIMO (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique) came to power; instead, it fed industrialization in apartheid South Africa.” (Richard Roberts)

This in-depth study of the region examines the dominant developmentalist narrative that has surrounded the dam, chronicles the continual violence that has accompanied its existence, and gives voice to previously unheard narratives of forced labor, displacement, and historical and contemporary life in the dam’s shadow.

Death, Belief and Politics in Central African History Cover

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Death, Belief and Politics in Central African History

In this set of essays Walima T. Kalusa and Megan Vaughan explore themes in the history of death in Zambia and Malawi from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Drawing on extensive archival and oral historical research they examine the impact of Christianity on spiritual beliefs, the racialised politics of death on the colonial Copperbelt, the transformation of burial practices, the histories of suicide and of maternal mortality, and the political life of the corpse.

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