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The Creation of Identity: Colonial Society in Bolivia and Tanzania

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 June 2009

Robert H. Jackson
Harvard University
Gregory Maddox
Harvard University


Many colonial regimes appropriate traditional symbols of power to enhance authority. In many cases this appropriation results in the hardening of more transitory political divisions among subject people into ethnic, national, or tribal ones. Colonialism often, in essence, creates different identities for subject peoples. For example, the East India Company (E.I.C.) and royal colonial government in India manipulated caste and religion to carry out a policy of divide and rule. Moreover, the E.I.C. and later the Raj attempted to create a European-style landed elite that could promote development of agriculture, maintain social control in the countryside and, perhaps most important, collect taxes owed to the government. The Raj attempted to place the structures of power that evolved within the framework of the symbols of Moghul legitimacy, going so far as to create a hybrid traditional style of architecture used in many public buildings that mixed elements from both Hindu and Muslim buildings. In South Africa, colonial legislation, as seen in the process begun by the Glen Gray Act of 1894, resulted in the proletarianization of the African population by creating tribal reservations without enough resources to support all the people often arbitrarily defined as members of a particular tribe. And, as seen in studies of mine labor, coloniallegislation also defined a distinctive legal status for workers.

Defining Difference
Copyright © Society for the Comparative Study of Society and History 1993

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1 See, for example, Metcalf, Thomas, Land, Landlords, and the British Raj North India in the Nineteenth Century (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1979)Google Scholar; Metcalf, Thomas, An Imperial Vision: Indian Architecture and Britain's Raj (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1989)Google Scholar; Irschick, Eugene, Politics and Social Conflict in South India: The Non-Brahman Movement and Tamil Separatism 1916–1929 (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1969)Google Scholar; Stokes, Eric, The Peasant and the Raj: Studies in Agrarian Society and Peasant Rebellion in Colonial India (Cambridge, 1978)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Oldenburg, Veena, The Making of Colonial Lucknow 1856–1877 (Princeton, 1984)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Hobsbawm, Eric and Ranger, Terence, The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, 1983)Google Scholar; Bundy, Colin, The Rise and Fall of the South African Peasantry (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1979)Google Scholar; Lonsdale, John, “When Did the Gusii (or Any Other Group) Become a Tribe?,” Kenya Historical Review, 5 (1977), 123–33Google Scholar; Austen, Ralph, “The Official Mind of Indirect Rule: British Policy in Tanganyika, 1916–1939,” in Gifford, Prosser and Roger Louis, W., eds., Britain and Germany in Africa (New Haven, 1967)Google Scholar; Vail, Leroy, ed., The Creation of Tribalism in Southern Africa (London, 1989)Google Scholar; and Worger, William, South Africa's City of Diamonds Mine Workers and Monopoly Capitalism in Kimberley 1867–1895 (New Haven, 1987)Google Scholar. The invention of identity has not been a question examined by many Latin Americanists. The more common approach has been to study colonial institutions such as the tribute system that conferred an identity on native peoples. For example, see Albornoz, Nicolas Sanchez, Indios y tributes en el Alto Peru (Lima, 1978Google Scholar.

2 Roseberry, William, Anthropologies and Histories: Essays in Culture, History, and Political Economy (New Brunswick, NJ, 1989), 222, and 14.Google Scholar

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5 Graham, James D., “Indirect Rule: The Establishment of ‘Chiefs’ and ‘Tribes’ in Cameron's Tanganyika,” Tanzania Notes and Records, 77 (1976), 19Google Scholar.

6 The term caste is used in the discussion within the context of its use in Latin American social history. The castas were defined as the mixed-blood population of European. Indian, and African ancestry who were partially or completely assimilated into Iberian culture and seen as a distinct group in colonial society. The castas were defined by gradations of reputed racial mixture and identified by terms, such as mestizo, mulato, lobo, and coyote, which in theory distinguished between people with different degrees of mixing. The castas had distinct rights and obligations as well as restrictions, such as sumptuary and employment restrictions. Spanish officials viewed the castas, not unlike the way British officials viewed “detribalized Africans,” as a dangerous and potentially subversive group that had to be controlled. Mestizo, discussed below, was a caste category defined as an individual of mixed European-Indian ancestry.

7 Larson, Brooke, Colonialism and Agrarian Transformation in Bolivia Cochabamba 1559–1900 (Princeton, 1988), 175Google Scholar.

8 Idem.

9 Quoted inZulawski, Anne, “Forasteros y yanaconas: La mano de obra de un centra minero en el siglo XV11,” in Harris, Olivia, Tandeter, Enrique and Larson, Brooke, eds., Participacion indigena en los mercados surandinos (Cochabamba, 1987), 171–2Google Scholar. The translation is ours. An extreme case of the difference between cultural and biological identity is the phenomenon of “White Indians,” persons of European ancestry who voluntarily or involuntarily adopt Indian culture and in effect become Indian. See, for example, Stern, Peter, “The White Indians of the Border Lands,” Journal of the Southwest. 33 (1991), 262281Google Scholar. Stern (p. 271) cites the case of “Kiowa Dutch” described as being an “enormous blonde,” who was captured by Indians as a boy in Texas and was culturally Kiowa. In many instances children of mixed European-Indian ancestry were raised to be culturally Indian. Such was the case of Osceola, a leader of Florida Seminole Indians in the 1830s, who was of mixed English-Creek ancestry. Osceola was culturally Indian. See Wickman, Patricia, Osceola's Legacy (Tuscaloosa, 1991)Google Scholar, chapter 1.

10 A kin-based social, political, and economic unit―community―in the Andean region.

11 Jackson, Robert H., “Estructura agraria y mestizaje en el canton Paredon a principios del siglo XX,” Estudios-UMSS, 1:2 (1988), 227Google Scholar.

12 Larson, , Colonialism, 330–1.Google Scholar

13 Erwin Grieshaber, “Survival of Indian Communities,” 106–7.

14 Larson, , Colonialism, 93101Google Scholar.

15 Ibid., 101.

16 Dalence, José, Bosquejo estadistico de Bolivia (La Paz: Reprint Edition, 1975), 211Google Scholar.

17 Stern, Steve, Peru's Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest Huamanga to 1640 (Madison, 1982), 413Google Scholar.

18 D’Maman, Itala, Jackson, Robert, and Galindo, Fernando, “Estudio socio-economico de Anzaldo” (Cochabamba, mimeo, 1987)Google Scholar. Peasants living on haciendas located in the altiplano maintained existing communal social and labor relations following the expansion of haciendas into former community lands in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The absentee hacienda owner merely extracted labor services for demesne production and a rent in money or produce without modifying the social organization of the peasant communities residing on hacienda lands (Heyduk, Daniel, “The Hacienda System and Agrarian Reform in Highland Bolivia: A Re-evaluation,” Ethnology, 13 [1974], 111)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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20 Salamanca, Octavio, El socialismo en Bolivia. Los indios de la altiplanicie boliviana(Cochabamba, 1931), 169–70Google Scholar. William Taylor documented a similar pattern among peasants in Oaxaca, namely the sale by women of pulque produced within the household (Drinking, Homicide, and Rebellion in Colonial Mexican Villages [Stanford. 1979], 5254)Google Scholar. Rafael Peredo Antezana also stressed the importance of the use of money accumulated in the mines in the purchase of land. See his La provincia de Quillacollo. Ensayo monografico (Cochabamba. 1963).186Google Scholar.

21 Iliffe, John. A Modern History of Tanganyika (Cambridge, 1979), 318–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

22 Tanzania National Archives (hereafter TNA) 7777/20, Cameron, Donald, “Native Administration,” 16 07 1925Google Scholar, also quoted in Iliffe, , A Modern History, 321.Google Scholar

23 Iliffe, , A Modern History, 323Google Scholar. Quote from Tanganyika, , Native Administration Memorandum No. 11: Native Courts, 2nd ed. (Dar es Salaam. 1930), 1Google Scholar.

24 Temu, Arnold and Swai, Bonaventure, Historians and Africanist History: A Critique (London, 1981)Google Scholar.

25 Feierman, Steven, Peasant Intellectuals: Anthropology and History in Tanzania (Madison, 1990)Google Scholar.

26 U-gogo. the land of the Gogo in Swahili. Ci-gogo (the language of the Gogo) and Kiswahili (Swahili, the national language of Tanzania understood by most people in the region) form nouns by adding a prefix, indicating the type or class of noun, to a root; for example. Mugogo (Gogo) or Mgogo (Swahili) is the singular personal noun while Wagogo (in both) is the plural.

27 TNA, Central Province Provincial Book, sections on Native Authorities and Customary Law.

28 Mutemi or Mtemi (pl. Watemi) is the title given in Ugogo to the man who “controlled” the rains in a given region. Effective political authority often accompanied this title, which was theoretically inherited from the first settler of a region. Rigby estimates that there were about eighty-five ritual areas, and hence Watemi, {Cattle and Kinship among the Gogo: A Semi Pastoral People of Central Tanzania (Ithaca, 1967), 20, 98)Google Scholar. Colonial officials, of course, translated the term as chief. Full transcripts of all interviews are available in Maddox, Gregory, Leave Wagogo! You Have No Food!: Famine and Survival in Ugogo, Tanzania, 1916–1961 (Ph.D. disser., Northwestern University, 1988)Google Scholar, Appendix. Interviews are referred to by accession numbers. I/53/52B Biringi.

29 Rigby, , Cattle and Kinship, 7677Google Scholar. in which he notes that “there is no indigenous concept of ‘tribe’ or ‘people’, other than a vague one of basically common language and culture.”

30 Mnyampala, Mathias, Historia, Mila na Desturi za Wagogo (Nairobi, 1954), 59Google Scholar.

31 This analysis draws on Ambler, Charles, Kenyan Communities in the Age of Imperialism: The Central Region in the Late Nineteenth Century (New Haven, 1988)Google Scholar. See Rigby, , Cattle and Kinship, 63108Google Scholar, and Persistent Pastoralists: Nomadic Societies in Transition (London, 1985)Google Scholar; Mnyampala, , Historia, Mila na Desturi; Carol Jane Sissons, Economic Prosperity in Ugogo, East Africa, 1860–1890 (Ph.D. disser., History Department, University of Toronto, 1984)Google Scholar, Mbogoni, L. E. Y., Food Production and Ecological Crisis in Dodoma, 1920–1960: Colonial Efforts at Developing the Productive Forces in Peasant Agriculture (M.A. thesis, University of Dar es Salaam, 1981)Google Scholar, and Maddox, Leave Wagogo, Chs. 1, 2.

32 See in particular Isaacman, “Peasants and Social Protest,” 3–5; Watts, Michael, Silent Violence: Food Famine and Peasantry in Northern Nigeria (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1983)Google Scholar; and Kjekshus, Helge, Ecology Control and Economic Development in East Africa History: The Case of Tanganyika 1850–1950 (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1977)Google Scholar. This concept goes back to the “substantivist” versus ” “formalist” debate in economic anthropology. See Hopkins, A. G., An Economic History of West Africa (London, 1973)Google Scholar.

33 Mandala, , Work and Control, 212Google Scholar; and Isaacman, “Peasants and Rural Social Protest,” 1–10.

34 I/3/3A E. Kongola; and P. Vageler, “Ugogo I: Die Vorbedingunga” (1912), cited in Public Record Office/Ministry of Agriculture and Food (hereafter MAF) 83/1978, John Phillips, “Kongwa Working Party Report” (1952), 261.

35 Vageler in MAF 83/1978, 259.

36 I/3/3A E. Kongola.

37 Isaacman, , “Peasants and Social Protest,” 4, 1415Google Scholar; and Iliffe, John, The African Poor: A History (Cambridge, 1987), 135–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

38 I/5/5A Father Steven; and I/53/52B Biringi.

39 Rada, and Dyson-Hudson, Neville, “The Food Production System of a Semi-Nomadic Society; The Karamojong of Uganda,” in McLoughlin, P.F.M., ed., African Food Production Systems: Cases and Theory (Baltimore, 1970), 91123Google Scholar.

40 Rigby, , Cattle and Kinship, 31Google Scholar; and I/5/5A Father Steven.

41 I/51/143A-158A Mpilini etc.; I/28/39A-41A Msaka etc.; Horowitz, Michael M. and Little, Peter D., “African Pastoralism and Poverty: Some Implications for Drought and Famine,” in Glantz, Michael, ed., Drought and Hunger in Africa: Denying Famine a Future (Cambridge, 1984), 5982Google Scholar; de Waal, Alexander, Famine that Kills: Dar Fur, Sudan, 1985–1986 (Oxford, 1989), 7577Google Scholar; and McAlpin, Michelle, Subject to Famine: Food Crises and Economic Change in Western India, 1860–1920 (Princeton, 1983). 4144Google Scholar.

42 I/35/61A-73A Menza etc. gives a clear statement.

43 I/5/5A Father Steven; and Rigby, , Cattle and Kinship, 5758Google Scholar.

44 Maddox, , “Leave, Wagogo,” 6677Google Scholar; and Iliffe, John, Tanganyika under German Rule, 1905–1913 (Cambridge, 1969), 160171CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

45 Maddox, Gregory, “Mtunya: Famine in Central Tanzania, 1916–1920,” Journal of African History, 31: 2 (1990), 181–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

46 TNA, Dodoma District Book, H. Hignell to Chief Secretary, Report on the Wagogo, 19 June 1927.

47 Rigby, Peter, “Politics and Modern Leadership Roles in Ugogo,” in Turner, Victor, ed.. Colonialism in Africa 1870–1960: Vol. 3, Profiles in Change: African Society and Colonial Rule (Cambridge, 1971)Google Scholar, argues, based on clan histories, that this famine did not cause as great a disruption to local communities as the British thought (see pp. 402–3). Maddox's informants painted a much grimmer picture.

48 TNA, Dodoma District Book, H. Hignell to Chief Secretary, Report on the Wagogo, 18 June 1927.

49 See TNA 146/A20/1 Vol. I H. Hignell to J. D. Lawrence 15 August 1925.

50 Historia, Mila na Desturi, 17.

51 Rigby, “Politics and Modern Leadership,” 393–438.

52 TNA 967.828 Dodoma District Reports, A. V. Hartnoll, Annual Report for 1927.

53 Iliffe, , Modem History, 319–20Google Scholar.

54 Kimambo, I. N., Penetration and Protest in Tanzania: The Impact of the World Economy on the Pare, 1860–1960 (London, 1991)Google Scholar.

55 TNA 967.828 Dodoma District Reports, H. Hignell to the Governor 2 February 1925.

56 TNA 967.825 Provincial Commissioner's Reports for the Central Province, H. Hignell, Report for 1927.

57 Bradford, Helen, “Highways, Byways and Culs-de-Sacs: The Transition to Agrarian Capitalism in Revisionist South African History,” Radical History Review, 4647 (1990), 8283Google Scholar.

58 Maddox, Gregory H., “Famine, Impoverishment and the Creation of a Labor Reserve in Central Tanzania,” Disasters 15:1 (1991), 3541CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed.

59 MMnyampala, , Historia, Mila na Desturi, 73Google Scholar.

60 1/46/118A Job Lusinde; and TNA 435/R.3/2/I I. B. Aers, “Dodoma District Report for 1960.”

61 See for example Liganga, Lucas and Temba, Pudenciana, “Children on Dar Street Pavements,” Sunday News, 30 08 1987, 5Google Scholar.

62 Bryceson, Deborah Fahey, Food Insecurity and the Social Division of Labor in Tanzania, 1919–1985 (New York, 1990), 49CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Mbilinyi, Majorie, “Agribusiness and Casual Labor in Tanzania,” African Economic History, 15(1986), 107–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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