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Notes on 'Africa since 1940 – the past of the present' by Frederick Cooper Cambridge University Press; 2002

Chapter 1: Introduction: from colonies to third world

"Africa's present did not emerge from an abrupt proclamation of independence, but from a long, convoluted and still ongoing process" (p.6)

· concept of gatekeeper states; raising taxes on import/exports, but not widely controlling

· continuity and change run parallel and interact, i.e. – institutions we think of as 'Western', like elected bodies, do not necessarily function in an African context in the same way as they do in Europe, and 'traditional' African practices, like kinship, do not necessarily function in the same way as they did 100 years ago

cultures' "distinctiveness did not mean isolation, and it did not extinguish interconnection, relatedness and mutual influence" (p.13)

"when the colonial empires fell apart, African leaders also faced the temptation to strengthen their control of narrow channels, rather than widen and deepen forms of connection across space" (p.14)

idea of 'colonial parenthesis' (J. Ade Ajayi) (cf. p.15) and "nationalist conception of political life… [with a] direct connection of 'modern' African states to an 'authentic' African past" (p.15) - some African historians use 3 stage divisions – pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial – the book attempts to bridge these divisions

Chapter 2: Workers, peasants and the crisis of colonialism

"in the late 1930s and 1940s, colonial rule choked on the narrowness of the pathways it had created. Trying to confine Africans to tribal cages…created the very sort of danger administrators feared" (p.20)

"In parts of Africa, colonization drove rural dwellers into deepening poverty, sometimes as a deliberate policy to create "labour reserves" where people had little alternative to selling their labour cheaply, sometimes…[making] difficult ecosystems worse" (p.21) - but not all trade followed this extreme capitalist/exploitative model; in some areas, wealth accrued and divisions were created, but also significant reinvestment in communities took place.

'native' "forms of spirituality and other concepts of the supernatural are still capable of making sense of the world and articulating moral beliefs, and many of these co-exist with the newer faiths" (p.27)

· 1935-1950 – strikes in African ports, mines and railways; response to "miserable wages… inadequate housing... [being] disciplined arbitrarily and… [having] little chance to advance" (p.31)

ZIM SPEC:- general strike in 1948 – restrictions on women: "not legally permitted to be in cities unless … they were legally married to a man who was entitled to be there" (or, some cases, were working themselves) (p.33) - but African urban life…proved to be impossible to control [despite] harsh policing"

this brought 3 reactions from colonial administrators:
1- they started to wonder if "the migrant labour system was really in the be...

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Keywords

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