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24 - Introduction:

Colonial Reports and Documents

from Part Five - Administrative Records

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2013

Alice Bellagamba
Affiliation:
University of Milan-Bicocca
Sandra E. Greene
Affiliation:
Cornell University, New York
Martin A. Klein
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
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Summary

The colonial state was a bureaucracy. It wrote things down and preserved written records. When the colonial state was gone, it left behind masses of paper, which can be found in the capitals of former empires and in administrative centers all over Africa. They record both the minutiae of daily administrative life and the larger questions, both the ways Africa's colonial rulers saw the people they governed and how they responded to Africa's problems. Working in colonial archives involves a lot of persistence, but it can be fruitful. There are files labeled "Slavery" in many archives. They often date to periods when the colonial administration was struggling over what to do about slavery. They also include reports that colonial governors asked the administrative officers to make. Some include African voices, albeit filtered through European eyes.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2013

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