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Apartheid's Festival

Contesting South Africa's National Pasts

Leslie Witz

Apartheid’s Festival highlights the conflicts and debates that surrounded the 1952 celebration of the 300th anniversary of the landing of Jan Van Riebeeck and the founding of Cape Town, South Africa. Taking place at the height of the apartheid era, the festival was viewed by many as an opportunity for the government to promote its nationalist, separatist agenda in grand fashion. Leslie Witz’s fine-grained examination of newspapers, brochures, pamphlets, and advertising materials reveals the expectations of the festival planners as well as how the festival was engineered, historical figures were reconstructed, and the ANC and other anti-apartheid organizations mounted opposition to it. While laying open the darker motives of the apartheid regime, Witz shows that the production of local history is part of a global process forged by the struggle between colonialism and resistance. Readers interested in South Africa, representations of nationalism, and the making of public history will find Apartheid’s Festival to be an important study of a society in transition.

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Armee et politique au Niger

Niger's political history has lacked a synthesis on the army's involvement in politics since independence. The country is a fertile ground for such analysis. Between 1964 and 1999, the country witnessed three successful military coups during the democratisation process (April 1974, January 1996, and April 1999) and at least four military coup attempts (1964, 1975, 1976, 1983). In its forty years of independence, Niger has been under military rule for twenty-one years. It has also experienced seven different institutional regimes while four out of the six presidents who headed the country were soldiers. Niger evolved from the Second to the Fifth Republic in less than ten years - from the national conference (November 1991) to the last military coup (April 1999). In statistical terms, Niger has been witnessing a military coup or a military coup attempt every five-years since 1974. In addition to that, the country recorded seven mutinies and various other forms of troop rebellion between December 1963 and August 2000. In terms of institutional instability, Niger's record is unparalleled in Africa. A study on the army is therefore more needed than ever before. The recurrence with which the military appears on the political scene imposes another way of looking at Niger's army. A critical analysis of the military phenomenon, if not an assessment, would help envisage new prospects for Niger's future. This work, which was undertaken by a multi disciplinary team, suggests an analysis, from a historical and sociological perspective, of the long-standing involvement of the army in politics (the apparition of war leaders in the 19th century, the transition from colonial army to national army, the politicisation of the army and the emergence of 'military-politicians', the army sociology.). It aims at providing an answer to a key question: Why is the army so deeply involved in politics in Niger? It reveals how a significant military component has been gradually built up in Niger's political arena to become a highly dynamic political entrepreneur, able to compete with civilian politicians. The work shows, on the one hand, the significance of socio-political and economic contexts that promote the propensity for military interventionism, and on the other hand the transformations within the army that explain its propensity to intervene. It relates two decades of 'military rule', analyses their modes of legitimating, organising and managing power, gives an assessment of their economic policies and sheds light on women's role in that institution, which was thus far a men's business.

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The Art of Conversion

Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo

Cécile Fromont

Between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries, the west central African kingdom of Kongo practiced Christianity and actively participated in the Atlantic world as an independent, cosmopolitan realm. Drawing on an expansive and largely unpublished set of objects, images, and documents, Fromont examines the advent of Kongo Christian visual culture and traces its development across four centuries marked by war, the Atlantic slave trade, and, finally, the rise of nineteenth-century European colonialism. By offering an extensive analysis of the religious, political, and artistic innovations through which the Kongo embraced Christianity, Fromont approaches the country's conversion as a dynamic process that unfolded across centuries.

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Aspects of Colonial Tanzania History

Aspects of Colonial Tanzanian History is a collection of essays that examines the lives and experiences of both colonizers and the colonized during colonial rule in what is today known as Tanzania. Dr. Mbogoni examines a range of topics hitherto unexplored by scholars of Tanzania history, namely: excessive alcohol consumption (the sundowners); adultery and violence among the colonial officials; attitudes to inter-racial sexual liaisons especially between Europeans and Africans; game-poaching; European settler vigilantism; radio broadcasting; film production and the nature of Arab slavery in Zanzibar. A particularly noteworthy case related to European vigilantism is examined: the trial of Oldus Elishira, a Maasai, for the murder of a European settler farmer in 1955. The victim, Harold M. Stuchbery, was speared to death when he attempted to ìarrestî a group of Maasai young men who were passing through his farm. The event highlighted the differences in the concepts of justice held by Maasai and the imported justice systems from the colonizers. It also raised vexing questions about the colonial judgeís acquittal of Oldus Elishira, while the Maasai who should have been satisfied with that decision decided to take it upon themselves to mete out an appropriate punishment to Elshira instead of total acquittal, and to compensate Mrs. Stuchbery for the death of her husband by giving her a number of heads of cattle.

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The Atlantic Slave Trade

A Census

Philip D. Curtin

Curtin combines modern research and statistical methods with his broad knowledge of the field to present the first book-length quantitative analysis of the Atlantic slave trade.  Its basic evidence suggests revision of currently held opinions concerning the place of the slave trade in the economies of the Old World nations and their American colonies.

“Curtin’s work will not only be the starting point for all future research on the slave trade and comparative slavery, but will become an indispensable reference for anyone interested in Afro-American studies.”—Journal of American History

“Curtin has produced a stimulating monograph, the product of immaculate scholarship, against which all past and future studies will have to be judged.”—Journal of American Studies

“Professor Curtin’s new book is up to his customary standard of performance: within the limits he set for himself, The Atlantic Slave Trade could hardly be a better or more important book.”—American Historical Review


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Baragwanath Hospital, Soweto

A history of medical care 1941–1990

This book illustrates how this rapidly growing, underfunded, but surprisingly effective institution found the niche that allowed it to provide medical care to a massive patient body and at times even to flourish during apartheid. Bara, as it is popularly known, stands on land purchased by the Cornish immigrant John Albert Baragwanath (the surname is Welsh, from bara meaning ‘bread’ and gwenith meaning ‘wheat’) in the late nineteenth century. He set up a refreshment post, trading store and hotel in what is now Soweto. The land was bought by Corner House Mining Group, but was never mined. The British government bought it in the early 1940s to build a military hospital, but by 1947, Baragwanath ceased to operate as a military hospital and, under the auspices of the Transvaal Provincial Administration, a civilian hospital was opened with 480 beds. Patients were transferred there from the ‘non-European’ wing of the Johannesburg General Hospital. Links were immediately forged with the University of the Witwatersrand and Bara would become one of its largest teaching centres. The history of Bara and its doctors and nurses reveals much about apartheid ideology and practice, as well as resistance to it, in the realm of healthcare.

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The Battle for North Africa

El Alamein and the Turning Point for World War II

Glyn Harper

In the early years of World War II, Germany shocked the world with a devastating blitzkrieg, rapidly conquered most of Europe, and pushed into North Africa. As the Allies scrambled to counter the Axis armies, the British Eighth Army confronted the experienced Afrika Corps, led by German field marshal Erwin Rommel, in three battles at El Alamein. In the first battle, the Eighth Army narrowly halted the advance of the Germans during the summer of 1942. However, the stalemate left Nazi troops within striking distance of the Suez Canal, which would provide a critical tactical advantage to the controlling force. War historian Glyn Harper dives into the story, vividly narrating the events, strategies, and personalities surrounding the battles and paying particular attention to the Second Battle of El Alamein, a crucial turning point in the war that would be described by Winston Churchill as "the end of the beginning." Moving beyond a simple narrative of the conflict, The Battle for North Africa tackles critical themes, such as the problems of coalition warfare, the use of military intelligence, the role of celebrity generals, and the importance of an all-arms approach to modern warfare.

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Becoming Zimbabwe. A History from the Pre-colonial Period to 2008

A History from the Pre-colonial Period to 2008

Becoming Zimbabwe is the first comprehensive history of Zimbabwe, spanning the years from 850 to 2008. In 1997, the then Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Morgan Tsvangirai, expressed the need for a 'more open and critical process of writing history in Zimbabwe. ...The history of a nation-in-the-making should not be reduced to a selective heroic tradition, but should be a tolerant and continuing process of questioning and re-examination.' Becoming Zimbabwe tracks the idea of national belonging and citizenship and explores the nature of state rule, the changing contours of the political economy, and the regional and international dimensions of the country's history. In their Introduction, Brian Raftopoulos and Alois Mlambo enlarge on these themes, and Gerald Mazarire's opening chapter sets the pre-colonial background. Sabelo Ndlovu tracks the history up to WW11, and Alois Mlambo reviews developments in the settler economy and the emergence of nationalism leading to UDI in 1965. The politics and economics of the UDI period, and the subsequent war of liberation, are covered by Joesph Mtisi, Munyaradzi Nyakudya and Teresa Barnes. After independence in 1980, Zimbabwe enjoyed a period of buoyancy and hope. James Muzondidya's chapter details the transition 'from buoyancy to crisis', and Brian Raftopoulos concludes the book with an analysis of the decade-long crisis and the global political agreement which followed.

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Being Colonized

The Kuba Experience in Rural Congo, 1880–1960

Jan Vansina

What was it like to be colonized by foreigners? Highlighting a region in central Congo, in the center of sub-Saharan Africa, Being Colonized places Africans at the heart of the story. In a richly textured history that will appeal to general readers and students as well as to scholars, the distinguished historian Jan Vansina offers not just accounts of colonial administrators, missionaries, and traders, but the varied voices of a colonized people. Vansina uncovers the history revealed in local news, customs, gossip, and even dreams, as related by African villagers through archival documents, material culture, and oral interviews.
    Vansina’s case study of the colonial experience is the realm of Kuba, a kingdom in Congo about the size of New Jersey—and two-thirds the size of its colonial master, Belgium. The experience of its inhabitants is the story of colonialism, from its earliest manifestations to its tumultuous end. What happened in Kuba happened to varying degrees throughout Africa and other colonized regions: racism, economic exploitation, indirect rule, Christian conversion, modernization, disease and healing, and transformations in gender relations. The Kuba, like others, took their own active part in history, responding to the changes and calamities that colonization set in motion. Vansina follows the region’s inhabitants from the late nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century, when a new elite emerged on the eve of Congo’s dramatic passage to independence.

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Being Maasai, Becoming Indigenous

Postcolonial Politics in a Neoliberal World

Dorothy L. Hodgson

What happens to marginalized groups from Africa when they ally with the indigenous peoples' movement? Who claims to be indigenous and why? Dorothy L. Hodgson explores how indigenous identity, both in concept and in practice, plays out in the context of economic liberalization, transnational capitalism, state restructuring, and political democratization. Hodgson brings her long experience with Maasai to her understanding of the shifting contours of their contemporary struggles for recognition, representation, rights, and resources. Being Maasai, Becoming Indigenous is a deep and sensitive reflection on the possibilities and limits of transnational advocacy and the dilemmas of political action, civil society, and change in Maasai communities.

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