The University of Wisconsin Press

African Studies / History


Intermediaries, Interpreters, and Clerks
African Employees in the Making of Colonial Africa
Edited by Benjamin N. Lawrance, Emily Lynn Osborn, and Richard L. Roberts

Africa and the Diaspora: History, Politics, Culture
Thomas Spear, David Henige, and Michael Schatzberg, Series Editors

A new perspective on the roles of Africans in the making of colonial Africa

As a young man in South Africa, Nelson Mandela aspired to be an interpreter or clerk, noting in his autobiography that “a career as a civil servant was a glittering prize for an African.” Africans in the lower echelons of colonial bureaucracy often held positions of little official authority, but in practice the occupants of these positions functioned as hidden lynchpins of colonial rule. As the primary intermediaries among European colonial officials, African chiefs, and subject populations, these men (and a few women) could manipulate the intersections of power, authority, and knowledge at the center of colonial society.

By uncovering the role of African civil servants in the construction, function, and legal apparatus of colonial states, the essays in this volume highlight a new perspective. They offer important insights on hegemony, collaboration, and resistance, structures and changes in colonial rule, the role of language and education, the production of knowledge and expertise in colonial settings, and the impact of colonization in dividing African societies by gender, race, status, and class.

A truly diverse, collaborative, and international effort. Assessing the role of African intermediaries and focusing on the intersections of power and legitimacy, tradition and modernity, this book interrogates important themes in the history of colonial rule in Africa.”
—Olufemi Vaughan, State University of New York–Stony Brook

“With its scholarly and valuable contributions to the theme of African auxiliaries, this volume fills an important gap in African studies.”
—Colin Newbury, Linacre College, University of Oxford

Contributors: Maurice Nyamanga Amutabi, Ralph Austen, Andreas Eckert, Ruth Ginio, Hervé Jezequel, Martin Klein, Benjamin Lawrance, Roger Levine, Saliou Mbaye, Thomas McClendon, Emily Lynn Osborn, David Pratten, Richard Roberts, and Brett Shadle.

Benjamin N. Lawrance is assistant professor of history at the University of California, Davis. Emily Lynn Osborn is assistant professor of history at the University of Notre Dame. Richard L. Roberts is professor of history and Director of the Center for African Studies at Stanford University.

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cover of Lawrance et al's book is rust red, with four fragmented images from a single old photo.

December 2006

LC: 2006008596 DT
312 p
p.   6 x 9
2 b/w illus., 4 maps

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Cloth $45.00 s
ISBN 978-0-299-21950-5
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Paper $29.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-21954-3
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