Synopses & Reviews
Portuguese officials forced nearly a million African peasants to grow cotton in colonial Mozambique under a regime of coercion, brutality, and terror. The colonial state sought to control almost every aspect of peasant life: growers were told not only what they should produce, but where they should live, how they should organize their labor, and with whom they should trade. A privileged few managed to prosper under the cotton regime, but the great majority were impoverished, as cotton cultivation earned them next to nothing and exposed them to hardship and famine.
Despite their efforts at control, the colonial state could only partially subordinate the rural population. This book explores the lives of Mozambique's cotton producers--their pain and suffering, their coping strategies, and their struggles to survive. Because the study is concerned above all else with the lived experiences of cotton growers, their stories figure prominently; the documentation for this book includes more than 160 interviews- with former cotton growers and their families, but also with African police and overseers, and with Portuguese settlers, merchants, missionaries, and officials. The producers' own stories, while acknowledging their bleak situation, provide evidence of agency, proactive struggle, and creative adaptation under difficult circumstances.
Isaacman provides both a wrenchingly detailed chronicle of the brutal monotony of the forced cotton regime, and a lucid and illuminating analysis of its contradictions.... This is an important contribution to the historiography of colonialism, labor, resistance, and agrarian change in Africa.Sara Berry, Northwestern University
This book explores the lives of Mozambique's cotton producers-their pain and suffering, their coping strategies, their struggles to survive.
About the Author
Allen Isaacman is Regents Professor of History and Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change/MacArthur Program at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of Mozambique: The Africanization of a European Institution, (1972), The Tradition of Resistance in Mozambique (1976), Mozambique from Colonialism to Revolution (1983), Cotton, Colonialism, and Social History in Sub-Saharan Africa (1995), and Cotton is the Mother of Poverty: Peasants, Work, and Rural Struggle in Colonial Mozambique, (1995).
Table of Contents
Part I: The Setting
The Antecedents and Formation of the Mozambican Cotton Regime, 1800-1938 Part II: Cotton and Rural Labor, 1938-1951
Cotton, Colonialism, and Work;
Variations in the Cotton Regime;
Peasants at Work: Marketing and Ginning Part III The Era of Reform, 1951-1961
Reforming the System: Rationalizing the Labor Process Part IV Long-Term Consequences, 1938-1961
Cotton and Food Insecurity;
Cotton and Rural Differentiation;
Coping with the Demands of Cotton;
Cotton, the Labor Process, and Rural Protest; Conclusion. Bibliography; Appendices; Index.