Portrait of Dr Giacomo Macola

Dr Giacomo Macola

History - Reader

About

Born in Venice, Italy, in 1973, Dr Giacomo Macola lived and worked in the most beautiful city on earth – Lusaka, Zambia – between his doctoral fieldwork in 1998 and 2004, when the painful onset of adulthood forced him to take up a research fellowship at the University of Cambridge. Giacomo, who holds a PhD from SOAS (2000), joined the University of Kent in 2007.    

Research interests

Giacomo's research specialism is the political and intellectual history of Central Africa since the 18th century. His articles have appeared in several specialist journals, including the Journal of African History, the International Journal of African Historical Studies and History in Africa. His third monograph, The Gun in Central Africa: A History of Technology and Politics, was published by Ohio University Press in 2016. 

Giacomo's most recent book is The Colonial Occupation of Katanga: The Personal Correspondence of Clément Brasseur, 1893-1897 (Oxford: Oxford University Press for the British Academy, 2018). He is currently working on a history of warlordism in the Congo Basin for a new book series of which he is co-editor: ‘War and Militarism in African History’ (Ohio University Press).

Teaching

Giacomo teaches on African and global history.

Supervision

Giacomo is happy to supervise postgraduate theses on most aspects of pre-colonial and colonial sub-Saharan African history.  

Current PhD students 

J. Burton Kegel, ‘The Road to Genocide: A History of the Rwandan Struggle for Liberation' 
T. N. Gourley, ‘Youth, Violence and the Postcolonial Zambian State’  

Former PhD students 

J. F. Hogan, ‘The Ends of Slavery in Barotseland, Western Zambia’ (2014)
P. Nicholls, '"The Door to the Coast of Africa": The Seychelles in the Mascarene Slave Trade, 1770-1830' (2018)


Publications

Showing 50 of 54 total publications in the Kent Academic Repository. View all publications.

Article

  • Gordon, D., Phiri, B., Macola, G. and Ferguson, J. (2014). ’Debating ’The Rediscovery of Liberalism’ in Zambia: Responses to Harri Englund. Africa [Online] 84:658-667. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0001972014000527.
    In Africa 83(4) (November 2013), Harri Englund discussed several recent books on Zambia published preceding the country’s fiftieth independence anniversary. His article explored the ways in which recent publications by Zambian and Zambianist authors have launched a fresh research agenda, and he focused in particular on the scholarly engagement with liberalism. Below, we publish responses from David M.Gordon, Bizeck Jube Phiri and Giacomo Macola, whose work was discussed in this article, and a comment by James Ferguson on more scholarly directions.
  • Macola, G. (2010). Reassessing the Significance of Firearms in Central Africa: The Case of North-Western Zambia to the 1920s. Journal of African History [Online] 51:301-321. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0021853710000538.
    Based on a close examination of European travelogues and the evidence produced in the wake of the formulation of colonial gun policies, this article contends that the significance of firearms in Central Africa in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries has been unduly played down in the existing literature. The first substantive section of the article charts the movement of the gun frontier in nineteenth-century north-western Zambia. It foregrounds the new technology’s economic and military applications, the means through which north-western Zambians overcame some at least of its limitations, and the plurality of innovative social roles that they attributed to it. Successive sections centre on the pervasiveness of gun-running in the early twentieth century and the implementation and profound social consequences of gun control laws.
  • Larmer, M. and Macola, G. (2007). The Origins, Context and Political Significance of the Mushala Rebellion against the Zambian One-Party State. International Journal of African Historical Studies 40:471-496.
    The article focuses on the origins, context, and political significance of Adamson Mushala's rebellion against the Zambian one-party state. While making no substantial military gains, Mushala succeeded in destabilizing the North-Western Province, the site of his insurgency, and creating an atmosphere of fear and paranoia among local and national leaders of the ruling United National Independence Party (UNIP). The Zambian postcolonial state was threatened by the enduring relevance of such allegiances. Mushala capitalized on the strength of local systems of ethnic affiliation, following in the footsteps of chieftain authorities, who had expressed their rejection of UNIP's national project by leading their people across the barely visible colonial borders separating an enduring Lunda polity
  • Macola, G. (2006). “It Means as If We Are Excluded from the Good Freedom”: Thwarted Expectations of Independence in the Luapula Province of Zambia, 1964-1967. Journal of African History [Online] 47:43-56. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0021853705000848.
    Based on a close reading of new archival material, this article makes a case for the adoption of an empirical, ‘sub-systemic’ approach to the study of nationalist and postcolonial politics in Zambia. By exploring the notion of popular ‘expectations of independence’ to a much greater degree than did previous studies, the paper contends that the extent of the United National Independence Party's political hegemony in the immediate post-independence era has been grossly overrated – even in a traditional rural stronghold of the party and during a favourable economic cycle. In the second part of the paper, the diplomatic and ethnic manoeuvres of the ruler of the eastern Lunda kingdom of Kazembe are set against a background of increasing popular disillusionment with the performance of the independent government.
  • Macola, G. (2005). Imagining Village Life in Zambian Fiction. Cambridge Anthropology 25:1-10.
  • Macola, G. (2004). The Historian Who Would Be Chief: A Biography of Simon Jilundu Chibanza III (1899 – 1974). Journal of African History [Online] 45:23-43. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S002185370300851X.
    By recovering from obscurity the life story of an early Zambian historian, this paper makes a case for the adoption of a biographical approach to the study of Africa's colonial history. It argues that Simon Jilundu Chibanza III's trajectory provides valuable insights into the ambivalent social location and intricate motivations of the Zambian intelligentsia during colonial rule. An examination of his background and variegated career accounts for the complexity of his identity and the imprints which its multiple strands left upon his literary output and profound understanding of the politics of history-writing.
  • Macola, G. and Hinfelaar, M. (2003). The White Fathers’ Archive in Zambia. History in Africa 30:439-445.

Book

  • Macola, G. (2016). The Gun in Central Africa: A History of Technology and Politics. [Online]. USA: Ohio University Press. Available at: https://www.ohioswallow.com/book/The+Gun+in+Central+Africa.
    Drawing on a range of theoretical concepts originating from outside the field of African studies, this book offers the first thorough history of firearms in Central Africa between the early nineteenth and the early twentieth century. The book approaches the trajectory of firearms in Central Africa from a culturally sensitive perspective that embraces both the practical applications of guns and the set of values and meanings that they have been taken to encompass. Intended as an exploration of the intersections between technology, society, politics and culture, it adopts a comparative perspective to chart, and account for, different user and potential user reactions to the same externally-introduced technology.
  • Macola, G. (2010). Liberal Nationalism in Central Africa: A Biography of Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula. [Online]. Palgrave Macmillan. Available at: http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/liberal-nationalism-in-central-africa-giacomo-macola/?K=9780230622746.
    This is a study of the life and times of Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula (1917?–1983), Zambian nationalism’s prime instigator in the 1940s and 1950s and, following the country’s independence in 1964, the tenacious leader of parliamentary opposition. The book foregrounds the creative intellectual work that enabled Nkumbula to imagine for the first time African unity in colonial Zambia and, later, to present a liberal alternative to dominant state-led models of political and economic development. By charting the long and convoluted trajectory of a counter-hegemonic liberal project, this work throws new light on the under-acknowledged fractiousness of Zambian nationalism and calls into questions the heuristic value of recent approaches to African contemporary politics that dismiss institutions and ideological orientations as mere epiphenomena of clientelism.

Book section

  • Hogan, J. and Macola, G. (2015). From Royalism to E-secessionism: Lozi Histories and Ethnic Politics from the Early Twentieth Century. In: Davis, C. and Johnson, D. eds. The Book in Africa: Critical Debates. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 153-175. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/9781137401625.
    This essay is about the ways in which successive Lozi thinkers turned the potentialities of the book to political work and appropriated them with a view to advancing specific understandings of Lozi identity. It will begin by placing the origins of Lozi historical literature in the context of the colonial encounter between the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. The argument will be advanced that Litaba tsa Sechaba sa Marotse (History of the Lozi Nation), the first full-length history of a Zambian people to be published in the vernacular in 1910, amounted to a tool for the furtherance of the cause of the Lozi monarchy in the neo-traditionalist politics ushered in by colonial rule. Our attention will then turn to the emergence of a Lozi vernacular ethnography in the middle decades of the twentieth century. By setting these texts against the background of the mature colonial period and the coeval economic decline of Barotseland, our analysis will foreground the main moral concerns of their authors. Due emphasis will be placed on the manner in which their literary efforts contributed to foster the ethnic particularism that underlay the fraught constitutional negotiations that would eventually lead to the incorporation of Barotseland into a unitary independent state. Finally, the argument will be made that Lozi particularism, once anchored in published histories and ethnographies, is presently drifting away from these moorings. This claim will be supported by a consideration of the links between conventionally and electronically published Lozi cultural material, and of the latter’s increasingly separate and self-sustaining existence. Lozi ‘e-secessionist’ arguments, we will conclude, constitute an attempt to break from the confines of both an established literature and the post-colonial state.
  • Macola, G. (2015). Luba-Lunda States. In: Mackenzie, J. ed. The Encyclopedia of Empire. Wiley. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/9781118455074.wbeoe060.
    Centralized state systems have existed among the Luba and Lunda peoples of present-day southern Democratic Republic of Congo since at least 1700. Over the course of the 18th century, both polities took on an imperial character, as the political, economic, and cultural networks that revolved around them came to overlay large expanses of the central African savannah. Luba and Lunda elites, however, proved ill-equipped to deal with the growth of the trade in slaves and ivory in the closing decades of the 19th century. The collapse of the Luba and Lunda spheres of imperial control on the eve of European colonialism ushered in an era of widespread political turmoil and social violence.
  • Beckett, I. (2013). Retrospective Icon: The Martini-Henry. In: Jones, K. R., Macola, G. and Welch, D. eds. A Cultural History of Firearms in the Age of Empire. Surry / Burlington: Ashgate, pp. 233-250.
  • Jones, K. (2013). Guns, Masculinity and Marksmanship: Codes of Killing and Conservation in the Nineteenth-Century American West. In: Jones, K. R., Macola, G. and Welch, D. eds. A Cultural History of Firearms in the Age of Empire. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 39-56.
  • Macola, G. (2013). ‘They Disdain Firearms’: The Relationship between Guns and the Ngoni of Eastern Zambia to the Early Twentieth Century. In: Jones, K. C., Macola, G. and Welch, D. eds. A Cultural History of Firearms in the Age of Empire. Ashgate, pp. 101-128. Available at: http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781409447528.
  • Jones, K., Macola, G. and Welch, D. (2013). Introduction:New Perspectives on Firearms in the Age of Empire. In: Jones, K. R., Macola, G. and Welch, D. eds. A Cultural History of Firearms in the Age of Empire. Ashgate, pp. 1-13. Available at: http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781409447528.
  • Macola, G. (2013). “They Disdain Firearms”: The Relationship Between Guns and the Ngoni of Eastern Zambia to the Early Twentieth Century. In: Jones, K. R., Macola, G. and Welch, D. eds. A Cultural History of Firearms in the Age of Empire. Surry / Burlington: Ashgate, pp. 101-128.
  • Bowman, T. (2013). Irish paramilitarism and gun cultures. In: Jones, K. R., Macola, G. and Welch, D. eds. A Cultural History of Firearms in the Age of Empire. Ashgate.
  • Macola, G. (2012). Nkumbula, Harry Mwaanga (c. 1917-1983); Mwata Kazembe Kanyembo Ntemena (d. 1904). In: Akyeampong, E. and Gates jr., H. eds. Dictionary of African Biography. Oxford University Press. Available at: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/dictionary-of-african-biography-9780195382075?cc=us&lang=en&#.
    Encyclopedia entries
  • Macola, G., Gewald, J. and Hinfelaar, M. (2011). Introduction: A New Take on Late Colonial Northern Rhodesia. In: Gewald, J.-B., Hinfelaar, M. and Macola, G. eds. Living the End of Empire: Politics and Society in Late Colonial Zambia. Brill. Available at: http://www.brill.com/living-end-empire.
  • Macola, G. (2011). Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula and the Formation of ZANC/UNIP: A Reinterpretation. In: Gewald, J.-B., Hinfelaar, M. and Macola, G. eds. Living the End of Empire: Politics and Society in Late Colonial Zambia. Brill. Available at: http://www.brill.com/living-end-empire.
  • Macola, G. (2009). Imagining the Nation: Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula between Politics and Ethnic History. In: Peterson, D. and Macola, G. eds. Recasting the Past: History Writing and Political Work in Modern Africa. Athens: Ohio University Press. Available at: http://www.ohioswallow.com/book/Recasting+the+Past.
  • Peterson, D. and Macola, G. (2009). Introduction: Homespun Historiography and the Academic Profession. In: Peterson, D. and Macola, G. eds. Recasting the Past: History Writing and Political Work in Modern Africa. Athens: Ohio University Press, pp. 1-28. Available at: http://www.ohioswallow.com/book/Recasting+the+Past.
  • Macola, G. (2008). Harry Nkumbula, UNIP and the Roots of Authoritarianism in Nationalist Zambia. In: Gewald, J.-B., Hinfelaar, M. and Macola, G. eds. One Zambia, Many Histories: Towards a History of Post-Colonial Zambia. Leiden: Brill, pp. 17-44.

Edited book

  • Macola, G. (2018). The Colonial Occupation of Katanga: The Personal Correspondence of Clément Brasseur, 1893-1897. [Online]. Vol. 15. Macola, G. ed. Oxford University Press for the British Academy. Available at: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-colonial-occupation-of-katanga-9780197266496?cc=jp&lang=en&.
    Critical edition and English translation of the personal records of an early official of the Congo Free State in Katanga (c. 300,000 words).
  • Jones, K.R., Macola, G. and Welch, D. eds. (2013). A Cultural History of Firearms in the Age of Empire. [Online]. Ashgate. Available at: http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781409447528.
    Firearms have been studied by imperial historians mainly as means
    of human destruction and material production. Yet, as suggested
    by constructivist approaches to the history of technology, firearms have always been invested with a whole array of additional social meanings. By placing these latter at the centre of analysis, the essays presented in A Cultural History of Firearms in the Age of Empire extend the study of guns beyond the confines of military history and the examination of their impact on specific colonial encounters. By bringing cultural perspectives to bear on the subject, the contributors explore the densely interwoven relationships between firearms and broad processes of social change.
  • Macola, G., Gewald, J.-B. and Hinfelaar, M. eds. (2011). Living the End of Empire: Politics and Society in Late Colonial Zambia. [Online]. Brill. Available at: http://www.brill.com/living-end-empire.
    Building on the foundational work of the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute, the essays contained in Living the End of Empire offer a nuanced and complex picture of the late-colonial period in Zambia. The present volume, based on untapped archival material and sources that have emerged in recent years, throws new light on some of the historical trajectories that the teleological gaze of nationalist scholars tended to ignore or belittle. By bringing to view the deep-rooted tensions underlying the Zambian nationalist movement, the painful dilemmas faced by chiefly and religious institutions, and the contradictory experiences of European and Asian minorities, Living the End of Empire draws inspiration from – and contributes to – a growing literature that is concerned with the study of social, political and cultural forces that did not readily fit into the then dominant narratives of united anti-colonial struggles.
  • Peterson, D.R. and Macola, G. eds. (2009). Recasting the Past: History Writing and Political Work in Modern Africa. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press.
    The study of intellectual history in Africa is in its infancy. We know very little about what Africa's thinkers made of their times. "Recasting the Past" brings one field of intellectual endeavor into view. The book takes its place alongside a small but growing literature that highlights how, in autobiographies, historical writing, fiction, and other literary genres, African writers intervened creatively in their political world. African brokers - pastors, journalists, kingmakers, religious dissidents, politicians, entrepreneurs all - have been doing research, conducting interviews, reading archives, and presenting their results to critical audiences. Their scholarly work makes it impossible to think of African history as an inert entity awaiting the attention of professional historians. Professionals take their place in a broader field of interpretation, where Africans are already reifying, editing, and representing the past. The essays collected in "Recasting the Past" study the warp and weft of Africa's homespun historical work. Contributors trace the strands of discourse from which historical entrepreneurs drew, highlighting the sources of inspiration and reference that enlivened their work. Illuminating the conventions of the past, Africa's history writers set their contemporary constituents on a path toward a particular future. History writing was a means by which entrepreneurs conjured up constituencies, claimed legitimate authority, and mobilized people around a cause. By examining the spheres of debate in which Africa's own scholars participated, "Recasting the Past" repositions the practice of modern history.
  • Nabulyato, R. (2008). African Realities: A Memoir. Macola, G. ed. Lusaka: The Lembani Trust.
  • Gewald, J.-B., Hinfelaar, M. and Macola, G. eds. (2008). One Zambia, Many Histories: Towards a History of Post-Colonial Zambia. Leiden: Brill.

Internet publication

  • Macola, G. and Hogan, J. (2011). Zambia Election Briefing 2011: Battle of the Dinosaurs [Internet]. Available at: http://africanarguments.org/2011/09/06/zambia-election-briefing-2011-battle-of-the-dinosaurs-%E2%80%93-by-giacomo-macola-and-jack-hogan/.

Other

  • Hinfelaar, M. and Macola, G. (2004). A First Guide to Non-Governmental Archives in Zambia.

Review

  • Macola, G. (2014). Challenging Africa. Journal of Southern African Studies [Online] 40:647-648. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03057070.2014.909667.
  • Macola, G. (2014). Review. History Today [Online] 64:62-62. Available at: http://www.historytoday.com/blog/2014/06/oxford-handbook-modern-african-history.
  • Macola, G. (2014). Review. History [Online] 99:354-356. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291468-229X.
  • Macola, G. (2014). Review. American Historical Review [Online] 119:1828-1829. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ahr/119.5.1828.
    Among English-speaking historians, the insurgency promoted by the Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC) since the late 1950s has not received the same degree of sustained scholarly attention as other coeval African armed liberation movements. But Meredith Terretta's brilliant monograph does more than fill a gap in the literature. Students of the decolonization era have long pondered the relationship between local and national dynamics in shaping African political commitments. Few, however, have so far proved able to supplement these traditional foci of reflection with a further layer of historical analysis. Terretta's greatest merit—and this book's most significant contribution to the field—lies precisely in teasing out the international dimension of the UPC nationalism and its entanglements with more commonly explored arenas of political action.
  • Macola, G. (2013). Review. International Journal of African Historical Studies [Online] 46:329-330. Available at: http://www.bu.edu/africa/publications/ijahs/.
  • Macola, G. (2013). Celebrating Eritrean Soldiers and Italian Identity. Journal of African History [Online] 54:445-447. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0021853713000601.
  • Macola, G. (2012). Review. Round Table: Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs [Online] 101:94-96. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/00358533.2012.655576.
  • Macola, G. (2011). Review. American Historical Review [Online] 116:550-551. Available at: http://ahr.oxfordjournals.org/content/116/2.toc.
  • Macola, G. (2010). The Political History of Late-Colonial Malawi. Journal of African History [Online] 51:116-117. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0021853710000149.
  • Macola, G. (2008). Swiss Missionaries and the Construction of Knowledge about Africa. Journal of African History [Online] 49:311-313. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0021853708003733.
  • Macola, G. (2007). Economic and Social Transformations in Central Africa. Journal of Southern African Studies:447-448.
  • Macola, G. (2005). The Steamer Parish: The Rise and Fall of Missionary Medicine on an African Frontier. Journal of African History [Online] 46:376-376. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0021853705520814.
  • Macola, G. (2004). Two Zambian Autobiographies. Journal of Southern African Studies [Online] 30:901-904. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0305707042000313086.
  • Macola, G. (2004). The Lunda-Ndembu: Style, Change, and Social Transformation in South Central Africa. Canadian Journal of African Studies:482-485.
  • Macola, G. (2003). Zambia: The Entrepreneur’s Story. Journal of Southern African Studies [Online] 29:1002-1004. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0305707032000150377.

Thesis

  • Vincent, J. (2015). ’The Black Knights of Fortune’: A Study of the Zappo-Zap and Euro-African Encounters in the Late Nineteenth-Century Kasai.
    Recent popular publications have emphasised the brutality and suffering inflicted upon African communities at the onset of colonialism in the Congo, under the Belgium King Leopold II. Yet this Euro-centric approach works to obscure African agency and collaboration under the Congo Free State, and the dependency of the Free State officers upon their African partners. Through following the trajectory of the Zappo-Zap, a distinctly under-studied slaving ethnic group who migrated to the western Kasai region, this dissertation makes a headway into understanding that the violence of the Congo Free State was fabricated from existing modes of exploitation in the Congo prior to European penetration, such as the Arab-Swahili commercial empires. Notably loyal, the example of the Zappo-Zap serves to evaluate the role of African agents in the shaping of exploitative Free State policies, and elucidates the extent that the Zappo-Zap adapted to, and gained from, the reliance of the Free State on them, in the midst of numerous rebellions in the Kasai such as the infamous Luluabourg Revolt.
  • Hogan, J. (2014). The Ends of Slavery in Barotseland, Western Zambia (c.1800-1925).
    This thesis is primarily an attempt at an economic history of slavery in Barotseland, the Lozi kingdom that once dominated the Upper Zambezi floodplain, in what is now Zambia’s Western Province. Slavery is a word that resonates in the minds of many when they think of Africa in the nineteenth century, but for the most part in association with the brutalities of the international slave trades. In the popular imagination and academia, the functions and significance of slavery in Central Africa have received scant attention. Moreover, Central African bondage, in the form of ‘lineage’ or ‘domestic’ slavery, has long been considered more benign than that practised elsewhere on the continent. For too long have these assumptions, rooted in both colonial and functionalist misunderstandings, clouded our understanding of the realities of slavery in pre-colonial Central Africa. One of the central purposes of this thesis therefore is to demonstrate not only the inapplicability of this outmoded paradigm to Barotseland, but of its blanket application to Central Africa as a whole.

    The thesis is presented in three substantive parts. In the first, following the introduction, a methodological chapter reflects on the challenges involved in researching slavery. That is followed by a historiographical survey, which locates the thesis within a broader intellectual landscape. The second part commences with a study of the ecology of the Upper Zambezi and its floodplain, the heartland of the pre-colonial kingdom, elucidating geology, climate, flora and fauna, before reflecting on the interactions of environment and human agency in the history of the region’s peoples. The chapter following traces the evolution of the Lozi state and the political history of the kingdom up to the 1870s, developing the argument that slavery was central to the turbulent nineteenth-century in the floodplain. The subsequent chapter, on the place of slavery in Lozi society, continues the argument, presenting a new understanding of the meaning of Lozi slavery. The third part of the thesis consists of three consecutive narrative chapters. The first of these opens in 1878. Besides charting a time of intrigue and rebellion and early colonial intrusions, it explores in depth the development of a vast programme of public works with the view to foregrounding both the economic significance of Lozi slavery and its fundamentally exploitative nature. The second narrative chapter begins in 1897, on the eve of the colonial era, and follows the events which led to the formal abolition of slavery in 1906 and the shifting balance of personal, political and economic power which underpinned it. The final chapter charts the slow decline of slavery over the next two decades. The long persistence of Lozi slavery, it is here argued, speaks volumes for its former centrality to both the Lozi economy and to Lozi understandings of their society and themselves.
  • Collins, J. (2014). “A Rough-and-Tumble business”? – The Arab-Swahili Long-Distance Trade and the Mweru-Tanganyika Corridor from c.1850 to c.1900.
    East-Central Africa in the nineteenth-century was a region riven with internal discord, which was accentuated by intrusive foreign groups that prolonged and worsened the violence and rivalries that punctuated everyday life. The Arab-Swahili of Africa’s east coast were one of the most prominent of these groups and acted primarily as traders and merchants, seeking to export the commodities of the African interior, such as ivory and slaves, to the markets of the world.
    This thesis will examine the Arab-Swahili traders and their activities in a specific region of the East-Central African interior, namely the Mweru-Tanganyika Corridor. This region of elevated, marshy land is situated between lakes Tanganyika and Mweru and represents one of the first places where the Arab-Swahili directly entered African political life, dominating the land themselves as political elites, rather than simply trading with the pre-existing African authorities. Mweru-Tanganyika is amongst the best places in Central Africa to explore the impact of coastal activities upon the indigenous peoples of Africa, with the Arab-Swahili exploiting both internal political divisions and the abundant natural resources.
    In many ways the Corridor was exactly as its name suggests; a route between various chiefdoms, polities, ethnic groups, and spheres of control, used, and abused, by almost every resident group and external intruder. It was the site of continuous interaction between several different parties during the nineteenth-century, including: Central African chiefdoms and polities; coastal traders and their roving bands of ruga-ruga mercenaries; and Europeans, including both early explorers and missionary groups, and later colonial representatives of the British, Germans and Belgian-owned Congo Free State.
    The focus of this work is the Arab-Swahili traders; the items and commodities they traded; their methods of military, political and economic control; and their relationships with both the African peoples of Mweru-Tanganyika and the Europeans who began to enter the region in the nineteenth-century.

Forthcoming

  • Macola, G. (2018). The Personal Papers of Clément Brasseur and the Africanization of the Congo Free State in Katanga. In: Leduc-Grimaldi, M. ed. The Congo Free State across Language, Media and Culture. Brussels: Peter Lang.
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