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Power in Colonial Africa: Conflict and Discourse in Lesotho, 1870-1960 (Africa and the Diaspora)


Power in Colonial Africa: Conflict and Discourse in Lesotho, 1870-1960 (Africa and the Diaspora) Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 (

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.

Product Details

Eldredge, Elizabeth A.
University of Wisconsin Press
Eldredge, Elizabeth
Africa - South - South Africa
Developing countries
International Relations - Diplomacy
Africa - South - Republic of South Africa
Power (Social sciences) - Lesotho
Lesotho Politics and government To 1966.
World History-Africa
Edition Description:
Africa and the Diaspora: History, Politics, Culture
Publication Date:
1 b/w map
9 x 6 x 1 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Africa » South Africa
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Social Science » Developing Countries
History and Social Science » World History » Africa
History and Social Science » World History » General

Power in Colonial Africa: Conflict and Discourse in Lesotho, 1870-1960 (Africa and the Diaspora) New Hardcover
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Product details 264 pages University of Wisconsin Press - English 9780299223700 Reviews:
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