Earth history, natural history and prehistory at the Cape, 1860 - 1875

Dubow, Saul (2004) Earth history, natural history and prehistory at the Cape, 1860 - 1875. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 46 (1). pp. 107-133. ISSN 0010-4175

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It is commonplace to treat the 1860s and 1870s as a crucial period in the making of modern South Africa. These two decades saw the beginnings of the mineral-led industrial revolution that so dramatically transformed the political economy of the region; they marked a decisive moment in the assertion of colonial political hegemony over regional African kingdoms; and they witnessed a secular intensification in imperial involvement in the sub-continent. In light of their importance in understanding the history of white supremacy in twentieth-century South Africa, these social, economic, and political processes have been extensively analyzed. Yet, settler power and authority were not expressed only in terms of economic control or political conquest: in order to achieve the mature form of colonial proprietorship that distinguishes South Africa from most other nineteenth-century settler societies in Africa, cognitive as well as physical mastery had to be established over indigenous peoples and the natural environment. It is surprising, therefore that so little attention has been devoted to the conspicuous display of intellectual curiosity that accompanied growing colonial and imperial engagement in the African subcontinent at this time. This paper seeks to redress this imbalance.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT History of Africa > DT1701 South Africa
Depositing User: Saul Dubow
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:30
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2012 08:12
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