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Toward a Comparative History of Racial Thought in Africa: Historicism, Barbarism, Autochthony

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2021

Jonathon Glassman*
History, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA


Using material from the history of African thought, this essay proposes a strategy for writing a comparative history of race that ranges beyond a consideration of white supremacy and its anti-racist inflections. Studies of race outside the global north have often been hobbled by rigid modernist assumptions that over-privilege the determining influence of Western discourses at the expense of local intellectual inheritances. This essay, in contrast, proposes a focus on locally inherited discourses of difference that have shown signs of becoming racialized, at times through entanglement with Western ideas. It pays particular attention to discourses that arranged “human kinds” along a progression from barbarian to civilized, suggesting the presence of African historicisms that in modern times have converged with the stadial ideas that played a major role in Western racial thought.

Making Human Kinds in Africa and China
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Society for the Comparative Study of Society and History.

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1 Studies that point to the ironic complexities of the racial components of Pan-Africanist thought include Appiah, K. Anthony, In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture (New York, 1992)Google Scholar; Zachernuk, Philip, Colonial Subjects: An African Intelligentsia and Atlantic Ideas (Charlottesville, 2000)Google Scholar; Wilder, Gary, The French Imperial Nation-State: Negritude and Colonial Humanism between the World Wars (Chicago, 2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Brennan, James R., “Realizing Civilization through Patrilineal Descent: The Intellectual Making of an African Racial Nationalism in Tanzania, 1920–1950,” Social Identities 12 (2006): 405–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 Hugh Trevor-Roper, The Rise of Christian Europe (London, 1965). Trevor-Roper's views gained notoriety among Africanists by being roundly refuted by John D. Fage, On the Nature of African History: An Inaugural Lecture Delivered in the University of Birmingham on 10th March 1965 (Birmingham, 1965). Notions of a cyclical African past, as distinct from what Trevor-Roper called a “purposive history,” persist: see Nicolas Sarkozy's infamous 2007 speech and the subsequent doubling-down by his speechwriter: “Le discours de Dakar de Nicolas Sarkozy,” Le Monde, 9 Nov. 2007,; Henri Guaino, “L'homme africain et l'histoire,” Le Monde, 26 July 2008, (both accessed 10 June 2020).

3 For an overview, see Jonathon Glassman, “Ethnicity and Race in African Thought,” in William Worger, Charles Ambler, and Nwando Achebe, eds., A Companion to African History (Hoboken, 2019), 199–223.

4 Ibid.


5 This digression is necessary to avoid being misunderstood as endorsing a neoconservative line of thought that begins, as I do, with the observation that it is impossible to draw a clear analytic line between racial and ethnic thought. The neoconservatives go on to conclude that because prejudices against Jewish Americans (say) or Korean Americans have been of the same order as those against Blacks, there can be no social explanation of African American poverty. Aside from being argued in bad faith (the neoconservatives start with a rhetorical insistence on social construction only to suggest the opposite), this position ignores an enormous amount of history. While no clear analytical distinction can be drawn between what we commonly regard as racial, ethnic, and national thought, each instance of such thought has a specific history, some involving far more sustained and systematic practices of exclusion than others. In this sense, of course, the history of white supremacy is in a class of its own. For a brief account of the neoconservative line, see Roger Sanjek, “The Enduring Inequalities of Race,” in Steven Gregory and Roger Sanjek, eds., Race (New Brunswick, 1994), 8–9. Sanjek uses the historical uniqueness of white supremacy to argue against comparability. That, I think, is a mistake.

6 I derive my understanding of racial and ethnic thought from a wide range of authors; for further elaboration, see Jonathon Glassman, War of Words, War of Stones: Racial Thought and Violence in Colonial Zanzibar (Bloomington, 2011), 8–22. For “human kinds,” see Lawrence Hirschfeld, Race in the Making: Cognition, Culture, and the Child's Construction of Human Kinds (Cambridge, Mass., 1996).

7 Liisa Malkki, Purity and Exile: Violence, Memory, and National Cosmology among Hutu Refugees in Tanzania (Chicago, 1995); Ann Laura Stoler, “Racial Histories and Their Regimes of Truth,” Political Power and Social Theory 11 (1997): 183–206; Rogers Brubaker, Ethnicity without Groups (Cambridge, Mass., 2004), 65.

8 E.g., Max Weber, Economy and Society, Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich, eds. (New York, 1968), vol. 1, 385–95.

9 Similar distinctions (using different language) can be found, inter alia, in Appiah, In My Father's House; and Hirschfeld, Race in the Making, and are implicit in the ample literature that approaches race as a mode of categorization, for example: Rogers Brubaker, Mara Loveman, and Peter Stamatov, “Ethnicity as Cognition,” Theory and Society 33, 1 (2004): 31–64. Appiah, however, uses the adjective “racist” to describe alike the thought of inveterate white supremacists and of W.E.B. Du Bois. Such usage muddies distinctions that are otherwise essential to his argument. That is why I prefer usage like that of Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, who writes of the “metalanguage” of race, one that can be “double-voiced,” both racist and liberatory: “African-American Women's History and the Metalanguage of Race,” Signs 17, 2 (1992): 251–74. Loïc Wacquant urges that we abandon altogether the fighting-word “racist” and instead focus on the precise techniques of racial domination: “For an Analytic of Racial Domination,” Political Power and Social Theory 11 (1997): 221–34.

10 For a useful overview, see Ronald Cohen, “Ethnicity: Problem and Focus in Anthropology,” Annual Review of Anthropology 7 (1978): 379–403.

11 A growing critical literature examines how misapplications of genetic science reproduce racial categories. For a synthesis, see Dorothy Roberts, Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-Create Race in the Twenty-First Century (New York, 2011).

12 Eric Wolf, “Perilous Ideas: Race, Culture, People,” with comments by Joel Kahn, W. Roseberry, and I. Wallerstein, Current Anthropology 35, 1 (1994): 1–12.

13 Cohen, “Ethnicity.”

14 This is not to say that American civic nationalism has ever been devoid of racial restrictions: Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People (New York, 2010).

15 Classic examples include Michael Omi and Howard Winant, Racial Formation in the United States (New York, 1994); and Barbara Fields, “Slavery, Race, and Ideology in the United States,” New Left Review 181 (1990): 95–118. But, again, when approaching the study of race as a problem of intellectual history, it is counterproductive to delimit one's topic of study too narrowly or categorically: there is no reason why a hierarchical notion of inherited difference may not have grown out of concepts that did not rest on hierarchy.

16 I derive this language from Donald L. Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict (Berkeley, 1985), who writes not of “race” versus “tribe,” but of “ranked” versus “unranked” ethnicities. Similar distinctions are made in George Fredrickson, Racism: A Short History (Princeton, 2002), 154–55; and John Comaroff, “On Totemism and Ethnicity,” in John Comaroff and Jean Comaroff, Ethnography and the Historical Imagination (Boulder, 1992), 49–67.

17 Glassman, “Ethnicity and Race.”

18 E.g., Howard Winant, “Race and Race Theory,” Annual Review of Sociology 26 (2000): 169–85; Immanuel Wallerstein, “The Construction of Peoplehood: Racism, Nationalism, Ethnicity,” in Étienne Balibar and Immanuel Wallerstein, Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities (London, 1991).

19 Inter alia, Léon Poliakov, The Aryan Myth: A History of Racist and Nationalist Ideas in Europe (London, 1974); David Nirenberg, Neighboring Faiths: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in the Middle Ages and Today (Chicago, 2014), 143–90; Guillaume Aubert, “The Blood of France: Race and Purity of Blood in the French Atlantic World,” William & Mary Quarterly 61, 3 (2004): 439–78; María Elena Martínez, Genealogical Fictions: Limpieza de Sangre, Religion, and Gender in Colonial Mexico (Stanford, 2008).

20 The chief exception to this generalization can be found in the rich scholarship on racial concepts in the Islamic Middle East, which I will mention later. And although the literature on race and “communalism” in South Asia and East Asia is marked by an emphasis on the dominating force of Orientalist discourse, some scholars trace entangled processes like those I will describe here, for example: Frank Dikötter, The Discourse of Race in Modern China (Stanford, 1992); Sheldon Pollack, “Deep Orientalism? Notes on Sanskrit and Power beyond the Raj,” in Carol Breckenridge and Peter van der Veer, eds., Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament (Philadelphia, 1993), 76–133; Peter Robb, ed., The Concept of Race in South Asia (Delhi, 1995).

21 The latter assumption prevails even among classicists who challenge the modernist consensus: understanding “race” as a distinctly scientific way of thinking about human difference, they contend that it originated with the ancient Greeks, the supposed inventors of systematic, abstract modes of thought: Benjamin Isaac, The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity (Princeton, 2004); and also Benjamin Isaac, Joseph Ziegler, and Miriam Eliav-Feldon, “Introduction,” in Miriam Eliav-Feldon, Benjamin Isaac, and Joseph Ziegler, eds., The Origins of Racism in the West (Cambridge, 2009), 1–31.

22 Race science was already in retreat by the 1930s: Elazar Barkan, The Retreat of Scientific Racism: Changing Concepts of Race in Britain and the United States between the World Wars (New York, 1992).

23 Michael Adas, Machines as the Measure of Men: Science, Technology, and Ideologies of Western Dominance (Ithaca, 1989); Helen Tilley, Africa as Living Laboratory: Empire, Development, and the Problem of Scientific Knowledge, 1870–1950 (Chicago, 2011).

24 Silvia Sebastiani, The Scottish Enlightenment: Race, Gender, and the Limits of Progress, Jeremy Carden, trans. (New York, 2013); George Stocking, Victorian Anthropology (New York, 1987); idem, Race, Culture, and Evolution (Chicago, 1968); T. Carlos Jacques, “From Savages and Barbarians to Primitives: Africa, Social Typologies, and History in Eighteenth-Century French Philosophy,” History and Theory 36, 2 (1997): 190–215. Landmark studies of how stadial ideas were used to describe and explain African and Asian difference and inferiority include Philip D. Curtin, The Image of Africa: British Ideas and Action, 1780–1850 (Madison, 1964); and Adas, Machines. Both use the word “race” narrowly, applying it only to biological notions, although Adas allows that other, less restrictive usages might well encompass the stadial historicism he describes. These authors focus on Scottish and French thinkers, but Hegel's well-known ideas about African and Asian difference might be taken as variations on the same theme. Stadial explanations of difference are still very much with us, not only in politics and popular culture (e.g., Nicolas Sarkozy's infamous 2007 Dakar speech, cited above), but also in the social sciences. A random example is Bernard Chapais, “The Deep Social Structure of Humankind,” Science 31 (11 Mar. 2011): 1276–77, which argues that the best way to recover the “deep structure” of social behavior from beneath the encrustation of “cumulative cultural evolution” is by “comparing human hunter-gatherer societies to nonhuman primate societies.” Less egregious but therefore more problematic is Ronald Meek's essential study of Enlightenment stadial thought, Social Science and the Ignoble Savage (Cambridge, 1976), which accepts as given the category of “primitive” societies. For broad critiques, see Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object (New York, 1983); and James Ferguson, Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order (Durham, 2006), 176–93.

25 Dominique Franche, “Généalogie du génocide rwandais: Hutu et Tutsi: Gaulois et Francs?” Les temps modernes 582 (1995): 1–58; and more generally, Norman Etherington, “Barbarians Ancient and Modern,” American Historical Review 116, 1 (2011): 31–57.

26 Jan Vansina, Antecedents to Modern Rwanda: The Nyiginya Kingdom (Madison, 2004). It is instructive that, although ethnicized categories of herder and farmer (Bahima and Bairu) existed throughout the region, they did not undergo similar racializing transformations except in the kingdoms of Burundi and, to a limited extent, Nkore. Pastoralist values enjoyed widespread prestige, and in Nkore Bahima were loosely associated with royal rule. But, despite the Hamitic fantasies of a few colonial-era writers, European and African, Bahima in western Uganda, including Nkore, were never racialized as a ruling caste to the same degree as were Tutsi in Rwanda. The contrast points to the contingent nature of racialization: regional variations in social and demographic change (including whether pastoralism remained transhumant), precolonial statecraft, and colonial politics caused the relative racialization of the categories of herder and farmer to vary along the spectrum described above. John Beattie, The Nyoro State (Oxford, 1971); Martin R. Doornbos, “Images and Reality of Stratification in Pre-Colonial Nkore,” Canadian Journal of African Studies 7, 3 (1973): 477–95; Samwiri Karugire, A History of the Kingdom of Nkore in Western Uganda to 1896 (Oxford 1971); and Justin Willis, “Killing Bwana: Peasant Revenge and Political Panic in Early Colonial Ankole,” Journal of African History 35, 3 (1994): 379–400.

27 For a similar argument, see Carolyn Hamilton, Terrific Majesty: The Power of Shaka Zulu and the Limits of Historical Invention (Cambridge, Mass., 1998).

28 Vansina, Antecedents; Catherine Newbury, The Cohesion of Oppression: Clientship and Ethnicity in Rwanda, 1860–1960 (New York, 1988); Claudine Vidal, Sociologie des passions: Rwanda, Côte d'Ivoire (Paris, 1991), esp. 45–61; Jean-Pierre Chrétien, “Hutu et Tutsi au Rwanda et Burundi,” in Jean-Loup Amselle and Elikia M'Bokolo, eds., Au Coeur de l'ethnie: Ethnies, tribalisme et État en Afrique (Paris, 1989), esp. 145–50; Chrétien, The Great Lakes of Africa: Two Thousand Years of History, Scott Straus, trans. (New York, 2003), 33–34, 281–88, 352–53. Vidal and Chrétien place more emphasis than Vansina does on the determining role of colonial concepts, and less on their interplay with notions inherited from the precolonial past.

29 Vansina, Antecedents, 33, 233 nn98, 99.

30 Dikötter, Discourse of Race; James Scott, The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (New Haven, 2009).

31 When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda (Princeton, 2001); and more generally, “Beyond Settler and Native as Political Identities: Overcoming the Political Legacy of Colonialism,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 43, 4 (2001): 651–64. The “official history” propagated by the post-genocide government is an extreme variant of such arguments: Filip Reyntjens, Political Governance in Post-Genocide Rwanda (Cambridge, 2013), 194–99.

32 For some exemplary studies, see Derek Peterson and Giacomo Macola, eds., Recasting the Past: History Writing and Political Work in Modern Africa (Athens, Oh., 2009).

33 E. A. Wallis Budge, The Queen of Sheba and Her Only Son Menyelek: Being … a Complete Translation of the Kebra Nagast (London, 1922). For its role as a “national epic” or “charter,” see Harold Marcus, A History of Ethiopia (Berkeley, 2002); Donald Levine, Greater Ethiopia: The Evolution of a Multiethnic Society (Chicago, 2000).

34 Speakers of Omotic and Cushitic languages, notably Oromo, although also subject to racialized stereotypes of barbarism, were more likely to be absorbed into the Christian polities via processes of “Abyssinianization.” They are the subject of a literature which, for reasons of space, I neglect here. Donald Donham, “Old Abyssinia and the New Ethiopian Empire: Themes in Social History,” in Donald Donham and Wendy James, eds., The Southern Marches of Imperial Ethiopia: Essays in History and Social Anthropology (Cambridge, 1986), 3–48 (quote from 19–20); Richard Pankhurst, “The History of Bareya, Sanqella and other Ethiopian Slaves from the Borderlands of the Sudan,” Sudan Notes and Records 58 (1977): 1–43; Taddesse Tamrat, “Processes of Ethnic Interaction and Integration in Ethiopian History: The Case of the Agaw,” Journal of African History 29, 1 (1988), 5–18, esp. 5–6.

35 Inter alia, Bruce Hall, A History of Race in Muslim West Africa, 1600–1960 (Cambridge, 2011); Chouki el Hamel, Black Morocco: A History of Slavery, Race, and Islam (Cambridge, 2013); Bernard Lewis, Race and Slavery in the Middle East (Oxford, 1990).

36 Murray Last, The Sokoto Caliphate (London, 1967); Muhammad Bello, “The Origin of the Fulbe,” in The Carthaginian Voyage to West Africa in 500 B.C., together with Sultan Mohammed Bello's Account of the Origin of the Fulbe, H. R. Palmer, trans. and commentary (Bathurst, 1931), 18–49; and more generally, Hall, History of Race, 63–66.

37 Moses Ochonu, Colonialism by Proxy: Hausa Imperial Agents and Middle Belt Consciousness in Nigeria (Bloomington, 2014); Ochonu, “Colonialism within Colonialism: The Hausa-Caliphate Imaginary and the British Colonial Administration of the Nigerian Middle Belt,” African Studies Quarterly 10, 2–3 (2008), (accessed 10 June 2020).

38 The deployment of such concepts can be seen in the attitudes toward “African” (i.e., non-Muslim) practices described by Mervyn Hiskett, in The Sword of Truth: The Life and Times of the Shehu Usuman dan Fodio, 2d ed. (Evanston, 1994), vii–xx; Douglas Anthony, Poison and Medicine: Ethnicity, Power, and Violence in a Nigerian City, 1966 to 1986 (Portsmouth, 2002); A. Masquelier, “Of Headhunters and Cannibals: Migrancy, Labor, and Consumption in the Mawri Imagination,” Cultural Anthropology 15, 1 (2000): 84–126; Jerome Barkow, “Muslims and Maguzawa in North Central State, Nigeria,” Canadian Journal of African Studies 7, 1 (1973): 59–76. Jahiliyya is rendered in Hausa as jahilci.

39 Yet more complexity was introduced in the twentieth century by the impact of British rule through the racially defined Omani state elite, the intellectual influence of historicist teachings conveyed in colonial schools, and the subaltern political currents of Garveyite Pan-Africanism. Glassman, War of Words; and “Racial Violence, Universal History, and Echoes of Abolition in Twentieth-Century Zanzibar,” in Derek Peterson, ed., Abolitionism and Imperialism in Britain, Africa and the Atlantic (Athens, Oh., 2010). For the earlier period, see also Jonathon Glassman, Feasts and Riot: Revelry, Rebellion and Popular Consciousness on the Swahili Coast (Portsmouth, 1995). For similar processes of colonial-era intellectual entanglement, see Amir H. Idris, Sudan's Civil War: Slavery, Race, and Formational Identities (Lewiston, 2001); and Heather Sharkey, Living with Colonialism: Nationalism and Culture in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (Berkeley, 2003).

40 This passage simplifies Nicolas's more complex account (and Nicolas's version of the foundational narrative is itself simplified). Guy Nicolas, “Les catégories d'ethnie et de fraction ethnique au sein du système social hausa,” Cahiers d’études africaines 15 (1975): 399–441 (whence the quotes); idem, Dynamique sociale et appréhension du monde au sein d'une société Hausa (Paris, 1975); Joseph H. Greenberg, The Influence of Islam on a Sudanese Religion (New York, 1946).

41 R. S. O'Fahey, “Fur and Fartit: The History of a Frontier,” in John Mack and Peter Robertshaw, eds., Culture History in the Southern Sudan: Archaeology, Linguistics and Ethnohistory (Nairobi, 1982), 75–87.

42 Ibid., 78.


43 Last, Sokoto Caliphate, lxxvi.

44 Paul Riesman, Freedom in Fulani Social Life: An Introspective Ethnography (Chicago, 1998[1974]), 117.

45 Paul Lovejoy, “Slavery in the Sokoto Caliphate,” in Paul Lovejoy, ed., The Ideology of Slavery in Africa (Beverly Hills, 1981), 201–43; John Ralph Willis, ed., Slaves and Slavery in Muslim Africa: Volume 1, Islam and the Ideology of Enslavement (London, 1985), esp. the chapters by Willis and Paolo Fernando de Moraes Farias.

46 Hall, History of Race, 84–86.

47 Ahmad Baba, Mi'raj al-Su'ud: Ahmad Baba's Replies on Slavery, annotated and trans. by John Hunwick and Fatima Harrak (Rabat, 2000). I have also relied on the translation in Bernard Barbour and Michelle Jacobs, “The Mi'raj: A Legal Treatise on Slavery by Ahmad Baba,” in John Ralph Willis, ed., Slaves and Slavery in Muslim Africa (London, 1985), vol. 1, 125–59.

48 Nor was it responsible for first introducing discourses of slaves’ barbarian alterity: for early second-millennium evidence from a region then well outside the reach of the Saharan or Indian Ocean trades, see Marcos Leitão de Almeida, “Speaking of Slavery: Slaving Strategies and Moral Imaginations in the Lower Congo (Early Times to the Late 19th Century),” PhD diss., Northwestern University, 2020.

49 Roger Botte, “De l'esclavage et du daltonisme dans les sciences sociales,” in R. Botte, ed., “L'Ombre portée de l'esclavage: avatars contemporains de l'oppression sociale,” special issue of Journal des Africanistes 70 (2000): 7–42, here 11; Moses Finley, “Slavery,” International Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, vol. 14 (New York, 1968), 303–13.

50 Pankhurst, “History of Bareya,” 29–30.

51 Glassman, “Racial Violence,” and War of Words.

52 Igor Kopytoff and Suzanne Miers, “African ‘Slavery’ as an Institution of Marginality,” in Suzanne Miers and Igor Kopytoff, eds., Slavery in Africa: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives (Madison, 1977), 3–81.

53 Sandra E. Greene, West African Narratives of Slavery: Texts from Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Ghana (Bloomington, 2011); Alice Bellagamba, Sandra Greene, and Martin A. Klein, “When the Past Shadows the Present: The Legacy in Africa of Slavery and the Slave Trade,” in Alice Bellagamba, Sandra E. Greene, and Martin Klein, eds., The Bitter Legacy: African Slavery Past and Present (Princeton, 2013), 1–27.

54 Igor Kopytoff, “The Internal African Frontier: The Making of African Political Culture,” in Igor Kopytoff, ed., The African Frontier: The Reproduction of Traditional African Societies (Bloomington, 1987), 3–84; “Code of Arrivals,” from W. Murphy and C. Bledsoe, “Kinship and Territory in the History of a Kpelle Chiefdom (Liberia),” in ibid., 123–47.

55 Other examples of such myths beneath an Islamic overlay include Muhammad Bello's story of Fulbe origin from the Maghreb via the Western Sudan (see note 36), and the Shirazi myths of the Swahili coast.

56 I use the term “first” or “founding pioneers” where Kopytoff uses the term “firstcomer.” As he notes, the “firstcomers” were rarely remembered as having actually been the first to occupy a territory. Kopytoff's readers often elide the distinction between “firstcomers” and autochthons; hence my alternate locution.

57 Naam was thus akin to what James Boswell and Samuel Johnson described as the “useful violence” by which the Romans and English had civilized their barbarian subjects: Sebastiani, Scottish Enlightenment, 13.

58 Michel Izard, Gens du pouvoir, gens de la terre: les institutions politiques de l'ancien royaume du Yatenga (Cambridge, 1985); idem, “Remarques sur le vocabulaire politique mossi,” L'Homme 13, 1/2 (1973): 193–206. Moose descent is traced through the paternal line.

59 Kopytoff, “Internal African Frontier,” 50–56. It should be emphasized that African thinkers rearranged and recombined these motifs in precolonial times just as they continued to do after European conquest. Examples (with the permutations and variants mentioned above) include the legends of the early Cwezi kings who preceded the historical dynasties of Bunyoro and Nkore: Iris Berger, “Deities, Dynasties, and Oral Tradition: The History and Legend of the Abacwezi,” in Joseph C. Miller, ed., The African Past Speaks: Essays on Oral Tradition and History (Folkestone, 1980), 61–81; Karugire, History of the Kingdom, esp. 96–104, 137–40. (Some colonial-era intellectuals, European and African, interpreted the Cwezi legends in terms of Hamitic racial science.) Other examples: Donald Donham, “On Being ‘First’: Making History by Twos in Southern Ethiopia,” Northeast African Studies, n.s. 7, 3 (2000): 21–33; David Schoenbrun, A Green Place, A Good Place: Agrarian Change, Gender, and Social Identity in the Great Lakes Region (Portsmouth, 1998), 181–82, 203–4; Georges Balandier, Daily Life in the Kingdom of the Congo (New York, 1968), 38–41; Jan Vansina, Kingdoms of the Savanna (Madison, 1966), 38, 71–73; and The Children of Woot: A History of the Kuba Peoples (Madison, 1978), 55. The autochthons in the latter instance were “pygmy” hunter-gatherers.

60 In addition to Izard, see Dominique Zahan, “Towards a History of the Yatenga Mossi,” in Pierre Alexandre, ed., French Perspectives in African Studies (London, 1973), 96–117; Murphy and Bledsoe, “Kinship and Territory.”

61 Bello, “Origin of the Fulbe”; Neville Chittick, “The Early History of Kilwa Kivinje,” Azania 4, 1 (1969): 153–59.

62 Jean-Pierre Dozon, “L’étranger et l'allochtone en Côte d'Ivoire,” in Bernard Contamin and H. Memel-Fotê, eds., Le modèle ivoirien en questions (Paris, 1997), 779–98; and the synthesis of the Ivory Coast literature in Jonathon Glassman, “The Racialization of Civic Discourses in Twentieth-Century Africa,” unpublished MS. See also Carola Lentz, who takes issue with interpretations that see in contemporary autochthony claims solely the hand of colonial rule and latter-day globalization; rather, she writes, they should also be traced to “precolonial configurations of first-comers and late-comers”; “Land Rights and the Politics of Belonging in Africa,” in Richard Kuba and C. Lentz, eds., Land and the Politics of Belonging in West Africa (Leiden, 2006), 14.

63 Glassman, War of Words, esp. ch. 7. For the racialized nature of violence in post-Cold War Ivory Coast, see Ruth Marshall-Fratani, “The War of ‘Who Is Who’: Autochthony, Nationalism, and Citizenship in the Ivoirian Crisis,” African Studies Review 49, 2 (2006): 9–43; Claudine Vidal, “Du conflit politique aux menaces entre voisins: Deux témoignages abidjanais,” in Marc Le Pape and C. Vidal, eds., Côte d'Ivoire: l'année terrible 1999–2000 (Paris, 2002), 215–52; idem, “La brutalisation du champ politique ivoirien,” in Frontières de la citoyenneté et violence politique en Côte d'Ivoire (Dakar, 2008), 169–81; Corinne Dufka, Côte d'Ivoire: The New Racism: The Political Manipulation of Ethnicity in Côte d'Ivoire, Human Rights Watch 13, 6 (A) (New York, 2001); Richard Banégas and Ruth Marshall-Fratani, “Côte d'Ivoire: Negotiating Identity and Citizenship,” in Morten Bøås and Kevin C. Dunn, eds., African Guerillas: Raging against the Machine (Boulder, 2007).

64 All four words are problematic for different reasons, yet, being commonly used in the literature, are unavoidable.

65 Edwin Wilmsen, Land Filled with Flies: A Political Economy of the Kalahari (Chicago, 1989); Shula Marks, “Khoisan Resistance to the Dutch in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries,” Journal of African History 13, 1 (1972): 55–80; Richard Elphick, Khoikhoi and the Founding of White South Africa (Johannesburg, 1985).

66 Glassman, “Ethnicity and Race”; for “inter-braided” (symplectiques): Jean-Loup Amselle, “Ethnies et espaces: pour une anthropologie topologique,” in Jean-Loup Amselle and Elikia M'Bokolo, eds., Au Coeur de l'ethnie: Ethnies, tribalisme et État en Afrique (Paris, 1989), 11–48.

67 Jan Vansina emphasized both points in his valuable overview, “Do Pygmies Have a History?” Sprache und Geschichte in Afrika 7, 1 (1986): 431–45.

68 For ranking and ressentiment, see especially Serge Bahuchet, La rencontre des agriculteurs: les Pygmées parmi les peoples d'Afrique centrale (Paris, 1993); and Roy Grinker, Houses in the Rain Forest: Ethnicity and Inequality among Farmers and Foragers in Central Africa (Berkeley, 1994). Ressentiment is most suggestively expressed in tensions over Pygmy crop theft, for which also see Karen Biesbrouck, “Agriculture among Equatorial African Hunter-Gatherers and the Process of Sedentarization: The Case of the Bagyeli in Cameroon,” in Karen Biesbrouck, Stefan Elders, and Gerda Rossel, eds., Central African Hunter-Gatherers in a Multidisciplinary Perspective (Leiden, 1999), 189–206.

69 These concepts are a variant of a much broader set of discursive forms concerning the idea of “the bush” (as distinct from “the village”), the history of which has been traced by Kathryn De Luna, Collecting Food, Cultivating People: Subsistence and Society in Central Africa (New Haven, 2016).

70 Alison Brooks, “Cultural Contact in Africa, Past and Present: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the Status of African Foragers,” in Susan Kent, ed., Ethnicity, Hunter-Gatherers, and the ‘Other’ (Washington, D.C., 2002), 206–29, here 209.

71 I adapt here language from Painter, History of White People, 385.

72 For what it is worth, the genetic evidence suggests that such hypergamy has been practiced for many generations: Brooks, “Cultural Contact”; also see Alan Barnard and Michael Taylor, “The Complexities of Association and Assimilation: An Ethnographic Overview,” in Susan Kent, ed., Ethnicity, Hunter-Gatherers, and the ‘Other’ (Washington, D.C., 2002), 230–46. Globally, even some of the most rigid proscriptions of ethnic or racial intermarriage allow for female hypergamy; in such cases, descent is typically calculated through the patriline. Where marriage is absolutely forbidden, as under white supremacy, interracial sexual contact is countenanced only between women of the subordinate and men of the dominant race. Thus, codes of gender and racial inequality are kept in sync.

73 The scholars who make these arguments also rely on archaeology and comparative ethnography. They include Bahuchet, La rencontre; Kairn Kliemann, “The Pygmies Were Our Compass”: Bantu and Batwa in the History of West Central Africa, Early Times to c. 1900 C.E. (Portsmouth, 2003).

74 Jan Vansina, Paths in the Rainforest: Toward a History of Political Tradition in Equatorial Africa (Madison, 1990), 56; Thilo Schadeberg, “Batwa: The Bantu Name for the Invisible People,” in Karen Biesbrouck, Stefan Elders, and Gerda Rossel, eds., Central African Hunter-Gatherers in a Multidisciplinary Perspective (Leiden, 1999), 21–39; Axel Köhler and Jerome Lewis, “Putting Hunter-Gatherer and Farmer Relations in Perspective: A Commentary from Central Africa,” in Susan Kent, ed., Ethnicity, Hunter-Gatherers, and the ‘Other’ (Washington, D.C., 2002), 276–305.

75 Klieman, Pygmies, quote from 211. She writes in fact not merely of centuries but of “millennia.”

76 Elsewhere in the Congo basin, Pygmies are also said to be descended from chimpanzee-like creatures: Bahuchet, La rencontre.

77 John Lonsdale, “The Moral Economy of Mau Mau,” in Bruce Berman and John Lonsdale, Unhappy Valley: Conflicts in Kenya & Africa, Book 2: Violence & Ethnicity (Athens, Oh., 1992), 265–467; also see Riesman, Freedom, for similar discourses in Burkina Faso.

78 Grinker, Houses; the quotes are from Grinker, “Structuring Inequality between Foragers and Farmers in the Ituri Forest, Zaire,” American Ethnologist 17, 1 (1990): 111–30, here 118.

79 Grinker, “Structuring Inequality,” 121–22.

80 Kohler and Lewis, “Putting Hunter-Gatherer,” 280–81.

81 Pnina Motzafi-Haller, “Beyond Textual Analysis: Practice, Interacting Discourses, and the Experience of Distinction in Botswana,” Cultural Anthropology 13, 4 (1998): 522–47; Biesbrouck, “Agriculture.”

82 E.g., Helen Tilley and Robert Gordon, eds., Ordering Africa: Anthropology, European Imperialism and the Politics of Knowledge (Manchester, 2007). This approach is in keeping with the arguments of a now substantial literature that eschews the notion of two distinct discursive circuits in colonial Africa, one African and the other European.

83 This is perhaps an extension of an even broader propensity to categorize in terms of metaphors of the body and/or to root conceptions of difference in metaphors of nature. Such matters were particularly prominent in the symbolic anthropology of the 1970s and 1980s, much of which traced inspiration to Mary Douglas, especially Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology (London, 1970), and before her to Durkheim, Mauss, and Vico. For useful overviews, see Roy F. Ellen, “Anatomical Classification and the Semiotics of the Body,” in John Blacking, ed., The Anthropology of the Body (London, 1977), 343–73; Margaret Lock, “Cultivating the Body: Anthropology and Epistemologies of Bodily Practice and Knowledge,” Annual Review of Anthropology 22 (1993): 133–55, esp. 135–36; John O'Neill, Five Bodies: The Human Shape of Modern Society (Ithaca, 1985).

84 Yet despite such arbitrariness, the Europeans who drew the boundaries were not as oblivious to local conditions as is commonly assumed, and political realities on the ground, as interpreted by the consuls’ African interlocutors, played a role: Saadia Touval, “Treaties, Borders, and the Partition of Africa,” Journal of African History 7, 2 (1966): 279–93.

85 As observed by Crawford Young, “Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Class in Africa: A Retrospective,” Cahiers d’études africaines 103 (1986): 421–95. Also see Basil Davidson, The Black Man's Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation State (New York, 1992).

86 The growing literature includes Achille Mbembe, ed., “Ways of Seeing: Beyond the New Nativism,” special issue, African Studies Review 44, 2 (2001). For “object of devotion,” see Francis Nyamnjoh, Insiders and Outsiders: Citizenship and Xenophobia in Contemporary Southern Africa (Dakar, 2006).

87 They have also prompted a flood of publications; for example, Phaswane Mpe, Welcome to Our Hillbrow (Pietermaritzberg, 2001); John Comaroff and Jean Comaroff, “Naturing the Nation: Aliens, Apocalypse, and the Postcolonial State,” Journal of Southern African Studies 27 (2001): 627–51; Whitaker, Beth Elise, “Citizens and Foreigners: Democratization and the Politics of Exclusion in Africa,” African Studies Review 48, 1 (2005): 109–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Nyamnjoh, Insiders and Outsiders; Michael Neocosmos, From “Foreign Natives” to “Native Foreigners”: Explaining Xenophobia in Post-Apartheid South Africa (Dakar, 2008); and Hassim, Shireen, Kupe, Twana, and Worby, Eric, eds., Go Home or Die Here: Violence, Xenophobia, and the Reinvention of Difference in South Africa (Johannesburg, 2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

88 Nyamnjoh, Insiders and Outsiders; Geschiere, Peter, The Perils of Belonging: Autochthony, Citizenship, and Exclusion in Africa and Europe (Chicago, 2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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