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Other titles in the Africa and the Diaspora: History, Politics, Culture series:
Power in Colonial Africa: Conflict and Discourse in Lesotho, 1870-1960 (Africa and the Diaspora)by Elizabeth A. Eldredge
Synopses & Reviews
Even in its heyday European rule of Africa had limits. Whether through complacency or denial, many colonial officials ignored the signs of African dissent. Displays of opposition by Africans, too indirect to counter or quash, percolated throughout the colonial era and kept alive a spirit of sovereignty that would find full expression only decades later.
In Power in Colonial Africa: Conflict and Discourse in Lesotho, 1870–1960, Elizabeth A. Eldredge analyzes a panoply of archival and oral resources, visual signs and symbols, and public and private actions to show how power may be exercised not only by rulers but also by the ruled. The BaSotho—best known for their consolidation of a kingdom from the 1820s to 1850s through primarily peaceful means, and for bringing colonial forces to a standstill in the Gun War of 1880–1881—struggled to maintain sovereignty over their internal affairs during their years under the colonial rule of the Cape Colony (now part of South Africa) and Britain from 1868 to 1966. Eldredge explores instances of BaSotho resistance, resilience, and resourcefulness in forms of expression both verbal and non-verbal. Skillfully navigating episodes of conflict, the BaSotho matched wits with the British in diplomatic brinksmanship, negotiation, compromise, circumvention, and persuasion, revealing the capacity of a subordinate population to influence the course of events as it selectively absorbs, employs, and subverts elements of the colonial culture.
“A refreshing, readable and lucid account of one in an array of compositions of power during colonialism in southern Africa.”—David Gordon, Journal of African History
“Elegantly written.”—Sean Redding, Sub-Saharan Africa
“Eldredge writes clearly and attractively, and her studies of the war between Lerotholi and Masupha and of the conflicts over the succession to the paramountcy are essential reading for anyone who wants to understand those crises.”—Peter Sanders, Journal of Southern African Studies
Book News Annotation:
Subscribing to the Foucauldian belief that power is "always already" everywhere and therefore doesn't necessarily imply domination, while also observing that Eurocentric accounts of colonial power are likely to distort the actual operations of power in a setting in which the colonizers are numerically few and interact with the colonized only in limited settings, the author conducts an analysis of power in colonial Lesotho which focuses on alternative uses of coercion and force, rhetoric, and diplomacy, unearthing hidden discourse and dissent among the BaSotho people together with open conflicts challenging the colonial order. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Elizabeth A. Eldredge is the author of A South African Kingdom: The Pursuit of Security in Nineteenth-Century Lesotho and other works on southern Africa.
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History and Social Science » Africa » South Africa