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Resistance and the social history of Africa.

In late 1926, African workers fled from their positions as field hands on Portuguese-run maize farms in the central Mozambican districts of Manica and Chimoio. The workers, all male, were coerced recruits brought from Chemba, a Zambezi valley district. The precise circumstances of their recruitment are not clear. The colonial administration in central Mozambique had recently overhauled its labor recruitment practices after facing criticism in the League of Nations in 1925. These changes notwithstanding, it is unlikely that recruitment took place in an atmosphere free from coercion. Nearly two-hundred of the Chemba recruits had fled by April 1927, most within two or three months of beginning work on the farms, while some took to their heels immediately upon their arrival. (1) The maize farms had a terrible reputation among workers from as early as 1908, when Zambezi valley recruits declared they "would prefer to eat roots and wild fruits than to go to ... Manica where they would die." (2) Labor recruits there could expect long hours of heavy manual labor, inadequate meal rations, wage arrears or non-payment, poor housing, and a fierce daily regime governed by verbal and physical abuse. Such work conditions routinely violated labor laws, but authorities rarely responded to workers' charges with effective action.

Little wonder, then, that the field workers fled; their decision to do so scarcely requires explanation. Labor contracts had a fixed term, in this case one year, and there were few if any workers who would have stayed at the job had it not been for the overall system of coercion that existed in colonial Mozambique. Police often accompanied recruiters, local African authorities assisted in the identification of potential recruits, and those who initially avoided recruitment sometimes turned themselves in to ransom a relative who had been seized in retaliation. (3) The director of the private recruiting agency that had delivered the workers to the maize farms in 1927 was--if not surprised--close to panic at the scale of worker flight. His agency had paid advances to the workers as part of the recruitment contract and covered the costs of transportation from Chemba, several hundred kilometers from Manica and Chimoio. The workers had fled so early in the term of recruitment that they had not yet worked off the advances they earned; the recruitment agency faced serious losses, amounting to five percent of its capital. (4)

The director prevailed upon colonial administrators to help track down the wayward workers, who had earned the label evadidos. When administrators in Chemba tried to locate those who had fled in the Zambezi valley chiefdoms from which they had come, they discovered that the evadidos had not returned home. Chemba's chiefs suggested that the missing workers had remained in central Mozambique, having found new jobs in Beira, the Indian Ocean port city, and in the agricultural area along the rail line that ran west from Beira to the border with Southern Rhodesia. (5) They found good cover among the 20,000 or so Africans working in Beira and the rail corridor. Some of the fugitive workers obtained new identification papers using an alias, making it that much more difficult to track them down. (6)

Colonial police rounded up relatives and African chiefs in Chemba; the administrators imprisoned some in Chemba but sent others to Manica and Chimoio to help locate the evadidos. The search parties had minimal success, locating only a couple dozen of the fugitives who had secured new employment since having fled the maize farms. (7) Even worse from the perspective of the recruitment agency's director--some of those sent to search fled in turn, following their relatives and neighbors into the wage labor market. The agency had paid to transport and feed these individuals as well, figuring to deduct the costs from the wages of the evadidos, once located. (8) Few of the fugitives were found, and the search effort merely added to the agency's losses.

The series of events might appear to be an example of successful African resistance to colonial coercion. Portuguese colonial policy had a strong reputation for abusive labor practices and even private recruitment agencies such as the one involved in this case could often count on administrative authorities to put the coercive capacities of the state at the disposal of recruitment efforts. (9) The success with which the evadidos and their confreres eluded the authorities is perhaps particularly surprising given Portuguese labor policy, which lived up to its reputation. Thus we might consider their efforts as simply another, albeit less than ordinary, case of everyday resistance.

The social history of Africa is, with few exceptions, history from below. The reasons for this are both historical and historiographical. Most African social history has focused on the 19th and 20th centuries, especially on the colonial era, when Africans were almost de facto subalterns. Inspired in part by the historiography of slavery, particularly of the American South, historians of Africa strove to discover, understand, and interpret the experiences of Africans who lived under colonial rule. (10) Given the context of colonialism in Africa, efforts to explore such experiences attempt to present the perspective of Africans subject to colonial rule.

This history from below frequently examined historical events and processes through the lens of a resistance paradigm. (11) Colonialism, with its great injustices, stark inequalities, and infrequent though compelling acts of rebellion, lends itself well to the paradigm. Explorations of African resistance replaced an imperial tradition of historiography that focused largely on European endeavors in Africa. To write history from below, historians had to look past (and through) colonial-era evidence that so often reflected more about European perceptions and interests than African experiences. Archival material was most likely to contain tax and population data; Africans appeared most often when colonial regulations were transgressed. Scholars read between the lines and against the grain to produce a richer, more balanced view of the colonial period.

In an initial phase historians narrated the epochal changes of the colonial era--conquest and independence--and the actions of the "great men" who figured in those changes. Some of this initial work drew an explicit connection between the start- and end-points of colonialism, linking nationalist movements for independence with those who resisted colonial conquest. (12) Work in this vein came close on the heels of the emergence of independent African nation states in the early and mid- 1960s. There was a sense that new nations in the post-colonial era needed a new history, especially when earlier imperial histories had neglected the role of Africans in the history of the continent. Narratives of resistance to colonial conquest and the struggle for independence centered African historical actors on the stage of history. Historians sought for and found--in both written and oral archives--accounts that described African efforts first to stave off and later to throw off the imposition of colonial rule. This endeavor very nearly defined what it meant to pursue "Africanist" scholarship.

The problems with the linkage between primary resistance to colonial rule in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the modern nationalist movements of the 1950s and 1960s are well known: a narrow focus on elite politics; the near exclusion of women, peasants, rank and file workers; and an undifferentiated view of these latter groups when they appeared at all. (13) A critique emerged in the late 1970s, questioning how real the link was between primary resistance and nationalist struggle. (14) Part of what drove this critique was a concern with class and class identities. Scholars sought to identify the "faceless masses" and in so doing, they asked whether one could speak of primary resisters and nationalist leaders in the same breath. Class divisions, based on people's relation to pre-colonial and colonial modes of production, held out the possibility that initial resistance and nationalist struggle composed historically distinct and separate processes.

The concern with economic differentiation in African societies drove a new generation of scholarship through the 1980s. While casting doubt on the connection between primary and nationalist resistance, this generation did not drop the resistance paradigm but rather drew on materialist perspectives to locate indigenous resistance within the broader framework of class struggle. This work pointed out the problems of discussing African resisters as a monolith. Such an approach had analytical shortcomings--the assumption that people had universal interests and goals--and was historically inaccurate--suggesting that there was a uniform response to colonial rule. Class divisions within the African population, previously existing and often intensified during the years of colonial rule, shaped different groups' responses to the exploitation of colonial capitalism. (15) The view toward a disaggregated "native population"---one that contained collaborators as well as resisters--represented a clear advance over what some saw as the romanticism of the previous generation of scholarship. (16)

Neither the nationalist nor the materialist literature captured the full range of African politics. Both were romantic, though for slightly different reasons. The first ignored the inconvenient existence of Africans who, for a variety of reasons, served the interests of the colonial state. Instead it focused on the heroes of anti-colonial resistance and sought to link them with latter-day nationalist leaders. The second limited itself to class-based identities that often foundered on the ambiguous position that many peasant groups occupied. The articulation of pre-colonial modes of production with colonial capitalism produced social groups whose identities and interests frustrated materialist categories. Yet both generations of scholarship were romantic in that they sanitized the internal politics of African communities. (17) Consequently neither approach accounts for how the powerful used the powerless in a variety of ways: how men used women, elders took advantage of juniors, or how the fortunate and ambitious exploited the unlucky and retiring.

The limits of a class-based analysis were readily apparent however, to a new group of scholars concerned with gender, generation, ethnicity, and a host of other cleavages within the social realm. First, the materialist approach (particularly among the underdevelopment school) located forces of change outside of the continent and continued to represent Africans as objects rather than subjects of history. Second, consideration of collaborators notwithstanding, the overall view of colonialism remained bound by a rigid dichotomy between colonizer and colonized, with little sense of internal African politics beyond the notion of class struggle. A third generation of scholarship emerging around 1990 drew on and contributed to emerging literature on "everyday resistance." (18) These scholars explored the politics of the quotidian in as many of its aspects as was possible, reaching past the colonizer-colonized dichotomy and revealing the richness of power struggles within the subordinate group. Their work considered expressions of resistance from Africans occupying a host of positions in the social realm, as urban workers, migrant laborers, peasant farmers, women, youth, Christians, Muslims, or members of specific ethnic groups. (19) This body of work characterizes the current state of the field.

The use of oral testimony has been central to this expansion in the range of subjects investigated. Evidence collected directly from informants made it possible to reach deeply into the social realm and explore the history of its distinct and diverse communities. (20) The authors of colonial archives were often uninterested in, unaware of, or simply unable to apprehend the complexity of social relations within African societies. Even district-level officials--those closest to the African communities being incorporated into the colonial system--were frequently ignorant of social differentiation within African communities, beyond the roughest distinctions between followers and chiefs, women and men, or children and adults. Unable to disaggregate the "native population," colonial administrators rarely grasped the dynamic and evolving social cleavages within rural African populations.

Historians' use of oral testimony is not new, but its relationship to these different areas of inquiry is. Oral data have been commonplace in the writing of African history since at least the early 1970s, and these data were key in helping to center African historical actors on the stage of history. Informants' accounts of resistance to colonial conquest helped rewrite the opening act of the colonial era from an African perspective. Such incidents had an important place in collective memory, especially in post-colonial societies that had actively incorporated epochal events into a national identity. (21) The events often form part of potential informants' individual recollections of a shared history. As such, they are safe to recount because they are distant in time, unique in occurrence, and depersonalized. The actors directly involved are, for the most part, no longer alive. Resistors' extraordinary acts of defiance cannot be confounded with more enduring local tensions. Furthermore, because such events happened--in a sense--to everyone, the responsibility for them belongs to no one.

Scholars who seek to move beyond these epochal events may encounter obstacles as they negotiate the oral archive. It is far more difficult to engage informants with questions about social cleavages that are proximate, particular, and personal. Gender, generational, and other conflicts present clear and present danger to certain individuals and they may be reluctant to discuss such issues openly, most especially with a stranger. The tensions between senior and junior male members of Zulu communities in the Thukela river valley helped drive Bhambatha's rebellion in 1906. (22) Similar stresses shaped conflict within the Zulu population more than eight decades later as school children defied their parents and sought to render apartheid South Africa's black townships ungovernable. These fault lines are still active sites of friction and make the oral archive a minefield for researchers. Disagreements between cotton-growers and purchasers over prices in contemporary Mozambique recall the forced cultivation scheme imposed under Portuguese colonial rule. It may be difficult to uncover past acts of every-day resistance to cotton cultivation when the same growers face different types of coercion in a world governed by IMF-sponsored structural adjustment programs. In the 1950s, cotton cultivators faced a host of coercive, exploitative, and institutionalized practices sponsored by the colonial state. In the 1990s, growers confront practices that may be far less formal but are nonetheless highly coercive. (23) Continuing conflicts can make it difficult to acquire clear accounts of how growers limited the demands made upon them by the colonial state. (24)

The difficulties notwithstanding, over the past decade oral testimony has moved from common to compulsory in the writing of African social history. One would be hard-pressed to find support for a project that examined the past century of African history and did not employ oral historical material. Its use has become a methodological orthodoxy, especially among Africa-based scholars but also in the United States and other countries. (25) The great bulk of recent scholarship on African social history has cleaved to this trend. (26)

Explorations of everyday resistance have been prominent within this literature. Historians have left behind Resistance in favor of resistance, seeking expressions of anti-colonial sentiment in the day to day lives of ordinary Africans whose activities escaped the gaze of previous generations of scholarship. The meaning with which these expressions are endowed takes center stage, and many scholars engage with the work of Antonio Gramsci and his interlocutors. (27) The question of hegemony is crucial in these explorations as historians show how Africans from all social backgrounds forged a critique of colonial domination.

The flight of labor recruits from Chemba described in the opening of this paper is perhaps more and less complicated than other instances of African resistance to colonial rule. It is instructive that those who fled did not return home, as one might expect if their aim had been to avoid wage labor and dedicate themselves to household-based agricultural production. Instead, they found new positions in which they could earn higher salaries than the more restricted recruited workers. Some of the evadidos appear to have planned just such a move, having given false names to the recruitment agency in order to more easily cover their tracks once they fled into the wage labor market. (26) Some of these African men, it appears, were quite willing to seek wage labor and demonstrated some skill in negotiating labor policy and the labor markets to achieve their goals.

The use of aliases and false identity documents represents only the simplest of measures and could be described as a reactive or defensive action. Those who fled--either at first or from among those who were brought to locate the initial evadidos--may well have planned to do so in advance of their journey to Manica or Chimoio. By signing on as recruits or agreeing to travel in search of their relatives, they had their meals and transportation arranged and paid for, no small matter for the several hundred kilometer journey. Was their flight a premeditated act aimed at exploiting the agency's recruitment infrastructure? Their subsequent entry into the wage labor market on their own terms--in some cases at the best-paying jobs available--suggests that the workers were more active players than passive or reactive victims of colonial coercion. An even more interesting possibility is that they were not merely actors but nimbly planning ones who schemed to exploit their would-be exploiters. This view dovetails uncomfortably with invariably negative colonial assessments of African workers, but it also puts the lie to the same colonial condemnations of"traditional African indolence." (27) Moreover, it allows us to look at the colonial encounter and see African agency that is neither that of a victim nor of a freedom fighter. If people from Chemba did in fact "travel and eat at the ... cost [of the recruitment agency]" (28) with the purpose of absconding for a better job at the first opportunity, their actions were far from principled or selfless. Rather, they were forward-thinking self-interested acts of duplicity carried out within a highly exploitative system. Their example represents less resistance than creative decisions about how to deploy their labor, and their choices may be less acts of resistance than negotiation. And if we must call their chiefs' participation in the recruitment process an act of collaboration, we must also recognize it was collaboration against, rather than with, colonial rule.

When men in Mozambique and elsewhere avoided labor recruitment to seek better-paying wage labor positions, the effect of their acts may well have been to deny certain colonial interests the potential use of their labor power. But their longer-term strategy was often to accumulate cash to purchase the livestock and implements necessary to expand household-based agricultural production. Some of these men eventually became successful farmers producing for broader markets in agricultural commodities. Were these cash-cropping peasants resisting when they insisted on controlling their labor? Likewise, when the effect of such actions was to increase dramatically the workload of their female relatives, how do we assess such actions? If a wife shouldered the burden of increased household agricultural activity in the absence of a migrant husband, helping boost production and accumulated wealth, was she dominated? Or finally, when adult men selected for forced labor recruitment were surreptitiously replaced by their junior male relatives who went to toil in their place, the domination-resistance dyad begins to fracture under the multiplicity of interests involved. These practices and others, some of which drew on patterns of strategic decision-making embedded in local power relations, clearly resonate with established inequalities between women and men, juniors and seniors, that pre-date the colonial era. (29) It is time, I would suggest, for the social history of Africa to go beyond the resistance paradigm.

Recent scholarship has shown just how important the infra-politics of African communities are in understanding the social history of colonial rule in Africa. However, the expanse of social terrain that such politics occupies begins to stretch the confines of the resistance paradigm. Africans engaged in a broad range of activities not only in reaction to colonial domination, but also as complex strategies of negotiation with forces from within and without their communities. (30) At times people resisted or collaborated, at others they did both simultaneously, while at still others their actions aimed only tangentially at the colonial state. Their efforts were not always directed toward state actors. They engaged colonialism at multiple, overlapping sites and their interactions with colonial agents did not always fall neatly into categories of domination, resistance, or collaboration. Domination and resistance can be seen as end-points along a power-laden continuum of experience. There is a full range of human action which spans that distance and in between the poles there lies a very crowded spectrum of human interests, goals, and needs.

If one tries to categorize commercial agricultural production or wage labor activity solely as resistance, one does violence to more than language. (31) Such an effort also does violence to history, because it collapses complex human actions and historical processes. One risks divorcing events from their context and narrowing our view of the past. (32) The binary opposition of resistance and domination may be a good place to start asking questions about power under colonial rule, but it limits our capacity to recognize nuance, ambiguity, and contradiction.

The resistance paradigm may impose a teleological view on our understanding of colonialism, in which colonial dominance must be the focal point for any deployment of power. European colonial power clearly bore the greatest determinative influence, but it was not all-determining, its dominance is clear only with hindsight, and hindsight can be "the enemy of understanding." (33) Latter-day knowledge of colonial power may cause our gaze to return to sites of colonial action, much as the hands of a Ouija board user return to spell out the object of the user's interest. Colonial domination may well have been inevitable but it was not imminent (or immanent), and neither colonial officials nor African subjects could afford to act as if it were. Administrators frequently chose to accommodate African interests in the implementation of colonial policy simply because it was easier or less expensive to do so. Similarly, Africans did not suddenly (or even gradually) abandon the struggles tied to the internal hierarchies of their communities to engage solely with agents of colonial rule. To do would have been disastrous: they still needed to deploy, engage, deflect, contest, and appropriate local power to be able to survive, produce, and maintain or advance their social standing. (34) Moreover, it simply would not be possible to abandon this multiplicity of struggles. People's identities were not solely constituted by their status as colonial subjects: they were simultaneously women, men, elders, juniors, members of lineages or ethnic groups, producers and consumers of material goods, land holders, holders of spiritual beliefs, and more. Their identities were overdetermined by these interests and concerns, and resistance cannot capture the full range of either their intent or their actions.

Moreover, how do we decide that resistance (or its inevitable if unplanned siblings, collaboration and domination) is the most appropriate interpretation of human behavior? Or, as some have asked, "the most interesting?" (35) If we instead consider the full range of people's actions as acts of negotiation with forces of political and economic change, we can produce a more complete, nuanced, and compelling account of their history. We must expand our lexicon and outlook to view the colonial experience as a field of negotiation rather than one of resistance, collaboration, or domination.

The practice of African social history is poised to make just this shift in outlook. Recent scholarship addresses a diverse set of subjects but shares at least one characteristic: the use of oral testimony solicited from living members of the communities selected for study. The evidence collected can be used in two ways. First, it provides important contextual commentary on archival sources, making it possible to read against the grain, extracting useful pieces of information from otherwise opaque biases. Second, oral testimony may frequently address subject matter that administrative authors either ignored or overlooked. The spread in use of oral evidence has brought with it an expansion in the diversity of subjects investigated. Scholars have had great success putting oral and written sources into dialogue with one another, expanding the range of each. It is one thing to read that a maize farmer's abuse of his workers was so gratuitous that he faced fines under rarely-enforced regulations. It is quite another to learn that his farm came to be known as "Chigodore," the name being derived from the Shona ideophone godo, "of striking someone on the head with a stick."

Oral testimony can reveal the "local categories of tension and friction" (36) within the entire colonial sphere, throwing into sharp relief the "presence and play of power" (37) not only between Africans and colonial officials but within African communities as well. Collection of oral data from informants makes it possible to construct a thick historical narrative. Narrative thickness allows us to consider how people made locally-inspired, creative choices about how to engage wider forces of political and economic change, and those choices often reflected as much about the infra-politics of African communities as about their interactions with the colonial state. These infra-politics were often invisible to the administrators who created the historian's evidentiary stock in trade, the archive, which tends to enforce the elision of the everyday.

Perhaps most importantly, the thickness derived from oral material can open up the full spectrum of history seen from below. It is more than a window onto the opaque or the overlooked. This approach provides not only another or more complete account of familiar events--in the case considered here, of African avoidance of forced labor--but normative commentary upon them as well. Thus we learn something about African attitudes toward colonial wage labor and perhaps some of the tradeoffs between life as a peasant or a proletarian. In these voices, we hear history read from below.

The new orthodoxy associated with a reliance on oral testimony offers great promise for the future of social history in Africa. Oral testimony will be crucial as the social history of Africa goes beyond the resistance paradigm. (38) Such testimony--in its songs, nicknames, jokes, and personal narratives--establishes a crucial counterpoint to dominant narratives, whether documentary or otherwise. It makes it possible to explore history from below in all of its ambiguity and contradiction and permits a greater focus on the experiences and strategies of Africans as they fought, worked, prayed, prospered, studied, loved, and suffered. Listening to African voices, we "get a sense of the texture of life ... which is what social history should be all about." (39) These voices are what will provide the thickness of historical context that makes it possible to write social history. For social historians of Africa, "the way forward is to listen, and listen again." (40)

Department of History

Hamilton, NY 13346-1398


This paper draws on exchanges too far-flung to detail in their entirety, but I can trace their roots to the 1996 African Studies Association meeting in San Francisco, where Paul S. Landau, Carol Summers, and Donald S. Moore presented papers on a panel titled "Rethinking the Resistance Paradigm in African Studies," after which Steven Feierman delivered an especially erudite commentary.

(1.) A(rquivo) H(istorico) de M(ocambique), C(ompanhia) d(e) M(ocambique)/ A(ssociacao) de T(rabalho) I(ndigena)/C(orrespondencia) E(xpedida)/Caixa 1: Director Gerente to Chefe Chemba, no. CL/333 of 2 Abril 1927; Direccao to Chefe Chemba [telegram], 6 Abril 1927.

(2.) AHM, CdM/S(ecretaria) G(eral)/Processos/Caixa 71: Chefe de Sub-circumscripcao de Sanca to Chefe de Sena, No. 110 of 1909, 30 September 1909, SGP/0130/39.

(3.) For more complete accounts of forced labor recruitment in Portuguese Africa, see James Duffy, Portuguese Africa (Cambridge, 1959); Gerald J. Bender, Angola Under the Portuguese: The Myth and the Reality (Berkeley, 1978); Allen Isaacman and Barbara Isaacman, Mozambique: From Colonialism to Revolution, 1900-1982 (Boulder, CO, 1983); Jeanne Marie Penvenne, African Workers and Colonial Racism: Mozambican Strategies and Struggles in Lourenco Marques, 1877-1962 (Portsmouth, UK, 1995).

(4.) AHM, CdM/ATI/CE/Caixa 1: Director Gerente to Director Negocios Indigenas, no. CL/110 of 26 Dezembro 1926.

(5.) AHM, CdM/ATI/CE/Caixa 1: Chefe Chemba to Recrutamento Beira, n.d.

(6.) AHM, CdM/ATI/CE/Caixa 1: Director Gerente to Chefe Chemba, no. CL/388 of 16 Abril 1927; Director Gerente to Director Negocios Indigenas, no. CL/393 of 18 Abril 1927; CdM/ATI/Dossies/Caixa 36: AT1MS, Macequece 1927; Sub-agente Macequece to Director Gerente, D/186 of 13 Junho 1927.

(7.) AHM, CdM/ATI/CE/Caixa 1: Director Gerente to Director Negocios Indigenas, no. CL/393 of 18 Abril 1927; CdM/ATI/Dossies/Caixa 27: ATIMS, Correspondencia Confidencial, 1927 a 1929, Agente Vila Pery to Director Gerente, no. DG/154 of 25 Maio 1927; CdM/AT1/CE/Caixa 2: Director Gerente to Agente Vila Pery, no. CL/596 of 3 Junho 1927.

(8.) AHM, CdM/ATI/CE/Caixa 2: Director Gerente to Director Negocios Indigenas, no. CL/775 of 18 Julho 1927; Director Gerente to Agente Vila Pery, no. CL/596 of 3 Junho 1927.

(9.) Especially because those same authorities often directed forced recruitment for the state itself.

(10.) Perhaps the most oft-cited work is Eugene D. Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (New York, 1974).

(11.) This is a vast body of literature. I have not attempted to produce a bibliographic essay but rather an interpretive overview. Those interested in consulting the literature on resistance in African history would do well to begin with Allen Isaacman's essay, "Peasants and Rural Social Protest in Africa," in Confronting Historical Paradigms: Peasants, Labor, and the Capitalist World System in Africa and Latin America, edited by Frederick Cooper, Allen E Isaacman, Florencia E. Mallon, William Roseberry, and Steve J. Stern (Madison, 1993), 205-317. For a review of recent contributions to this field, see Klaas van Walraven and Jon Abbink, "Rethinking Resistance in African History: An Introduction," in Jon Abbink, Miriam de Bruijn, and Klaas van Walraven, eds., Rethinking Resistance: Revolt and Violence in African History (Leiden, 2003), 1-40.

(12.) The classic work in this vein is Terence O. Ranger, Revolt in Southern Rhodesia, 1896-7 (London, 1967).

(13.) Crawford Young reviews this literature in "Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Class in Africa: A Retrospective," Cahiers d'Etudes Africaines 103 (1986): 421-495. Terence Ranger's 1977 essay is in part an auto-critique, "The People in African Resistance: A Review," Journal of Southern African Studies 4, no. 1 (1977): 125-146.

(14.) See in particular Ranger, "The People in African Resistance," and Allen Isaacman and Barbara Isaacman, "Resistance and Collaboration in Southern and Central Africa, c. 1850-1920," International Journal of African Historical Studies 10, no. 1 (1977): 31-62.

(15.) Frederick Cooper,"Peasants, Capitalists, and Historians:A Review Article,"Journal of Southern African Studies 7, no. 2 (1981): 284-314; Jack Lewis, "The Rise and Fall of the South African Peasantry: A Critique and Reassessment" Journal of Southern African Studies 11, no. 1 (1984): 1-24.

(16.) Ranger, "The People in African Resistance," 142.

(17.) Sherry B. Ortner, "Resistance and the Problem of Ethnographic Refusal," Comparative Studies in Society and History 27, no. 1 (1995): 179.

(18.) Other factors that moved scholarship beyond marxist approaches include the collapse of the Soviet Union, after which materialist analyses lost some appeal.

(19.) Penvenne, African Workers and Colonial Racism; Elizabeth Schmidt, Peasants, Traders, and Wives: Shona Women in the History of Zimbabwe, 1870-1939 (Portsmouth, 1992); Jonathan Glassman, Feasts and Riot: Revelry, Rebellion, and Popular Consciousness on the Swahili Coast, 1856-1888 (Portsmouth, 1995). Paul S. Landau, The Realm of the Word: Language, Gender, and Christianity in a Southern African Kingdom (Portsmouth, 1995); Allen Isaacman, Cotton is the Mother of Poverty: Peasants, Work, and Rural Struggle in Colonial Mozambique, 1938-1961 (Portsmouth, 1996); Raymond E. Dumett, El Dorado in West Africa: The Gold-Mining Frontier, African Labor, and Colonial Capitalism in the Gold Coast, 1875-1900 (Athens, 1998); Benedict Carton, Blood from Your Children: The Colonial Origins of Generational Conflict in South Africa (Charlottesville, 2000); David Robinson, Paths of Accommodation: Muslim Societies and French Colonial Authorities in Senegal and Mauritania, 1880-1920 (Athens, 2000).

(20.) Scholarship on the use of oral historical material has a long history itself; see Joseph C. Miller, ed., The African Past Speaks: Essays on Oral Tradition and History (Folkstone, 1980); Jan Vansina, Oral Tradition as History (Madison, 1985); Luise White, Stephen F. Miescher, and David William Cohen, eds., African Words, African Voices: Critical Practices in Oral History (Bloomington and Indianapolis, 2001).

(21.) The contemporary uses of these events and their place in collective memory are especially evident in "Pompa nas celebracoes da revolta de Barue: Cabrito para sacrificio ao Makombe foge numa cerimonia em que politica se misturou coma tradicao," [Pageantry in the commemoration of the Barue revolt: Goat destined for sacrifice to Makombe escapes in a ceremony in which politics is mixed with tradition] Noticias, 4 de Abril de 1997.

(22.) Shula Marks, Reluctant Rebellion: The 1906-08 Disturbances in Natal (Oxford, 1970); Carton, Blood from Your Children.

(23.) In the mid-1990s, cotton cultivators in northern Mozambique embarked on a sellers' strike in protest over low prices, which provoked the company that held a purchasing monopoly in the area to complain to the district administrator. The growers then found themselves facing armed soldiers as they were told they must sell their cotton at the price dictated by the company. Personal communication, Anne Pitcher.

(24.) Isaacman, Cotton is the Mother of Poverty, 17-18.

(25.) The ability to communicate directly with subjects in their own language is key in this trend. Many scholars based in Africa speak local languages. For many scholars outside the continent, financial support for language study has been crucial, as has the backing of the generation of scholars who have helped mainstream the use of oral testimony since the 1970s.

(26.) The results have dominated the field. Since 1990, the Herskovits Prize, awarded annually for the best scholarly work on Africa in English distributed in the United States, has gone to seven historians. Five of the seven make extensive use of oral testimony in their works. A major force in publishing this body of work is Heinemann's Social History of Africa series, and at least one reviewer has noted that oral testimony has become a "hallmark" of the series. James Brennan, H-Africa review of Making Ethnic Ways: Communities and Their Transformations in Taita, Kenya, 1800-1950 (Portsmouth, 1999), by Bill Bravman, archived at trx=vx&list=h-africa&month=9910&week=b&msg =qfbwlR7jCCBBEmFyGThp8A&user=&pw=

(27.) See especially Glassman's Feasts and Riot; Paul S. Landau, "Hegemony and History in Jean and John Comaroff's Of Revelation and Revolution," Africa 70, no. 3 (2000): 501-519.

(28.) AHM, CdM/ATI/CE/Caixa 2: Director Gerente to Director DNI, no. CL/851 of 9 Agosto 1927; CdM/ATI/CE/Caixa 2: Director Gerente to Governador, no. 913 of 30 Agosto 1927.

(29.) Such slander was part of a colonial mantra in Africa. For a small number of references in central Mozambique, see AHM, CdM/SG/Relatorios/Caixa 241: Circunscricao de Manica, Relatorio do Arrolamento de Palhotas e Recenseamento da Populacao Indigena, 1928, SGR/5104/01, 16; CdM/SG/Correspondencia/Caixa 179: Secretaria Geral, Circulares 1927, Circular 118 of 3 Novembro 1927; AHM, CdM/ATI/Dossies/Caixa 36: ATIMS, Macequece, 1927; Sub-Agente Macequece to Director Gerente, no. D/208 of 8 Julho 1927.

(30.) AHM, CdM/ATI/CE/Caixa 2: Director Gerente to Director DNI, no. CL/775 of 18 Julho 1927.

(31.) Elizabeth Eldredge argues that the periodic absence of male labor was a feature of pre-colonial Lesotho's political economy and that women had long assumed the greater part of work involved with agricultural expansion. Elizabeth A. Eldredge, A South African Kingdom: The pursuit of security in nineteenth-century Lesotho (Cambridge, 1993), 10. Allen and Barbara Isaacman have shown how pre-colonial pawning practices reflected local attitudes about whose labor was most expendable. Barbara Isaacman and Allen Isaacman, "Slavery and Social Stratification among the Sena of Mozambique: A Study of the Kaporo System," in Suzanne Miers and Igor Kopytoff, eds., Slavery in Africa: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives (Madison, 1977), 109.

(32.) Cooper, "Conflict and Connection: Rethinking Colonial African History," American Historical Review 99, no. 5 (1994): 1530, 1533.

(33.) Leroy Vail and Landeg White, "Forms of Resistance: Songs and Perceptions of Power in Colonial Mozambique" American Historical Review 88, no. 4 (1983): 886.

(34.) Cooper, "Conflict and Connection," 1533.

(35.) Douglas R. Egerton, He Shall Go Out Free: The Lives of Denmark Vesey (Madison, 1999), 128.

(36.) I owe this range of ways that people exercise power to Cooper, "Conflict and Connection," 1517.

(37.) Vail and White, "Forms of Resistance," 886.

(38.) Ortner, "Resistance and the Problem of Ethnographic Refusal," 177.

(39.) Ibid, 175.

(40.) Some readers might remark that the case of the Chemba recruits described in this essay appears to rely solely on documentary evidence. Two comments are in order. First, my reading of this evidence depends vitally on interviews I conducted from 1995 to 1998 with over one-hundred residents in central Mozambique. Second, the documentary evidence that describes the flight of the Chemba recruits is unusual in its completeness. Moreover, it is one of the infrequent instances when we have a clear view of the fissures within the community of colonial policy makers and practitioners. These fissures were always there but rarely visible. Ann Laura Stoler explores the importance of such fissures and of recognizing that categories such as the "colonial state" were historically shifting ones full of tension and contradictions. "Rethinking Colonial Categories: European Communities and the Boundaries of Rule," Comparative Studies in Society and History 31, no. 1 (1989): 134-161.

(41.) Vail and White, "Forms of Resistance," 919.

(42.) Leroy Vail and Landeg White, Power and the Praise Poem: Southern African Voices in History (Charlottesville, 1991), 324.

By Eric Allina-Pisano

Colgate University
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Title Annotation:New Topics And Historians
Author:Allina-Pisano, Eric
Publication:Journal of Social History
Geographic Code:60AFR
Date:Sep 22, 2003
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