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Other titles in the Africa and the Diaspora: History, Politics, Culture series:
Being Colonized: The Kuba Experience in Rural Congo, 1880-1960 (Africa and the Diaspora: History, Politics, Culture)by Jan Vansina
Synopses & Reviews
One of twelve children in a close-knit, affluent Catholic Belgian family, Jan Vansina began life in a seemingly sheltered environment. But that cocoon was soon pierced by the escalating tensions and violence that gripped Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. In this book Vansina recalls his boyhood and youth in Antwerp, Bruges, and the Flemish countryside as the country was rocked by waves of economic depression, fascism, competing nationalisms, and the occupation of first Axis and then Allied forces.
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Within the vast literature on World War II, a much smaller body of work treats the everyday experiences of civilians, particularly in smaller countries drawn into the conflict. Recalling the war in Belgium from a childand#8217;s-eye perspective, Vansina describes pangs of hunger so great as to make him crave the bitter taste of cod-liver oil. He vividly remembers the shock of seeing severely wounded men on the grounds of a field hospital, the dangers of crossing fields and swimming in ponds strafed by planes, and his familyand#8217;s interactions with occupying and escaping soldiers from both sides. After the war he recalls emerging numb from the cinema where he first saw the footage of the Nazi death camps, and he describes a new phase of unrest marked by looting, vigilante justice, and the countryand#8217;s efforts at reunification.
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Vansina, a historian and anthropologist best known for his insights into oral tradition and social memory, draws on his own memories and those of his siblings to reconstruct daily life in Belgium during a tumultuous era.
Vansina, a historian and anthropologist best known for his insights into oral tradition and social memory, draws on his own memories and those of his siblings to reconstruct daily life in Belgium during World War II.
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.
About the Author
Jan Vansina, now emeritus, held the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professorship and the Vilas Professorship in History and Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His many books include his memoir Living with Africa, as well as Oral Tradition as History, Antecedents to Rwanda, Kingdoms of the Savanna, The Children of Woot, and Paths in the Rainforests, all published by the University of Wisconsin Press. Considered one of the founders of the academic field of African studies, he was the second scholar chosen as “Distinguished Africanist” by the African Studies Association of the United States.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
A Note on Spelling and Pronunciation
1 Congo: Becoming a Colony
2 The Colonial Relationship
3 Incidental Conquest
4 Company Rule and Its Consequences
5 Were the Kuba Nearly Wiped Out?
6 Fifty Years of Belgian Rule: An Overview
7 A Kingdom Preserved
8 Village Life: 1911–1950s
9 In Pursuit of Harmony
10 Visions for a Different Future
11 Toward a New World
Conclusion: The Experience of Being Colonized
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History and Social Science » Africa » Congo