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Violent Encounters: Practices and Perceptions of Violence in Southern Namibia and the Northern Cape, c. 1880-1910

English title Violent Encounters: Practices and Perceptions of Violence in Southern Namibia and the Northern Cape, c. 1880-1910
Applicant Tischler Julia
Number 175666
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Departement Geschichte Universität Basel
Institution of higher education University of Basel - BS
Main discipline General history (without pre-and early history)
Start/End 01.10.2017 - 30.09.2021
Approved amount 241'663.00
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Keywords (7)

Violence; Frontier; Settler colonialism; Southwestern Africa; everyday; pastoralism; entangled history

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Gewalt war von zentraler Bedeutung, um koloniale Herrschaft zu errichten und aufrechtzuerhalten. In der Grenzregion des südlichen Namibias und des Nord-Kaps kam im späten 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhundert Alltagsgewalt eine erhebliche Rolle zu.
Lay summary

AfrikanerInnen aus der Grenzregion waren tagtäglich gewaltsamer kolonialer Unterdrückung, der Beschlagnahmung von Vieh sowie der Enteignung von Land ausgesetzt. Auf Farmen und in Minen wurden Arbeiter mit Prügel oder Hieben zur Arbeit gezwungen. Widerstand von Nama-Oorlam oder Herero überlagerte sich mit gewaltsamen Konflikten zwischen und innerhalb dieser Gruppen, die sich um politischen Einfluss und Macht, wirtschaftlichen Wohlstand und sozialen Status drehten. Das Projekt beschäftigt sich mit Praktiken der Alltagsgewalt wie Prügel oder Schiessen, die dabei häufig zur Anwendung kamen. Es geht der Frage nach, wie sich solche Praktiken sowie die ihnen zugeschriebenen Bedeutungen herausbildeten und sich vor dem Hintergrund von europäischem Siedlerkolonialismus, afrikanischem Pastoralismus und kolonialem State Building veränderten. Zudem wird untersucht, inwieweit Verschiebungen der Muster und Deutungen gewaltsamen Handelns das Ergebnis wechselseitiger Lern- und Aneignungsprozessen zwischen Afrikanern, Europäern und Afrikaanern (Buren) waren. Dafür werden deren (gewaltsame) Begegnungen auf Farmen und Missionsstationen, in Minen oder bei Raubzügen in den Blick genommen.

Das Projekt leistet einen Beitrag zur Diskussion der Rolle von Gewalt im (Siedler)Kolonialismus und zu Debatten über eine ‚geteilte’ Geschichte kolonialer Gewalt. Es greift auf eine verflechtungsgeschichtliche Perspektive sowie Frontier- und Borderland-Konzepte zurück und stützt sich auf eine Vielzahl mündlicher, archivalischer und gedruckter Quellen.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 09.10.2017

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
“Violence and Work: Convict Labour and Settler Colonialism in the Cape-Namibia Border Region (c. 1855¬-1903),”
HerzogKai (2021), “Violence and Work: Convict Labour and Settler Colonialism in the Cape-Namibia Border Region (c. 1855¬-1903),”, in Journal of Southern African Studies, 47(1), 17-36.
Balancing the Scales: Re-Centring Labour and Labourers in Namibian History
Moore Bernard C., Quinn Stephanie, Lyon William Blakemore, Herzog Kai F. (2021), Balancing the Scales: Re-Centring Labour and Labourers in Namibian History, in Journal of Southern African Studies, 47(1), 1-16.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
7th Namibia Research Day, University of Basel Talk given at a conference “Violent Encounters: Labour, Intimacy and Settler Colonialism in the Namibian-South African Border Region (c. 1852-1903)” 26.09.2021 Basel, Switzerland Herzog Kai Florian;
Forschungskolloquium Individual talk Gewalt, Nähe, und Arbeit: Siedlerkolonialismus in der namibisch-südafrikanischen Grenzregion (ca. 1852-1903) 21.04.2021 Köln, Germany Herzog Kai Florian;
Dokumente der Gewalt: Quellenarbeit der historischen Gewaltforschung Talk given at a conference "Theoretische Zugänge und methodische Ansätze,” input/moderation with Marie Muschalek; “Koloniale Gewalt in Deutsch-Südwestafrika" 31.10.2020 Basel, Switzerland Herzog Kai Florian;
Space in Time: Landscape Narratives and Land Management Changes Talk given at a conference “Colonies of Pain: Prison Labour, Land Use, and Violence in the Namibian-South African Border Region, c. 1870-1903,” 22.01.2020 Oranjemund, Namibia Herzog Kai Florian;
Summer Academy Humboldt University; "Unfree Labor" Talk given at a conference “Colonies of Pain: State-Making, Forced Labour and Violence on Southwestern Africa’s Settler Frontier, c. 1853-1903” 05.11.2019 Addis Abeba, Ethiopia Herzog Kai Florian;
Fünfte Schweizerische Geschichtstage; "Reichtum" Talk given at a conference “Prospects, Dispossession, and Everyday Violence: African Farm, Mine, and Domestic Workers Within the Expanding Settler Colonials Sphere of the Lower Orange River Border Region, c. 1880-1903” 05.06.2019 Zürich, Switzerland Herzog Kai Florian;
Kolloquium Moderne Geschichte Individual talk “Everyday Violent Encounters on Southwestern Africa’s Late 19th Century Frontier: Settler Colonialism, State (Un)Making, and Social (Trans)Formation in the Lower Orange River Border Region, c. 1870-1903” 10.05.2019 Bremen, Germany Herzog Kai Florian;
Kolloquium Neuere Geschichte Individual talk “Violent Encounters: Practices and Perceptions of Violence in Southern Namibia and the Northern Cape, c. 1880-1910" 03.04.2019 Zürich, Switzerland Herzog Kai Florian;
Biannial Meeting CRG African History Talk given at a conference "Settler Colonialism, Everyday Violence, and the Logic of Elimination" 15.06.2018 Pilsen, Czech Republic Herzog Kai Florian; Tischler Julia;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
“Dokumente der Gewalt: Quellenarbeit in der historischen Gewaltforschung” 30.10.2020 Basel (online), Switzerland
"Violence and Intimacy in Colonial and Post-Colonial Africa" 26.10.2020 Basel (online), Switzerland
"Violence and Intimacy in Colonial and Post-Colonial Africa" 14.06.2020 Basel (online), Switzerland

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
183577 African contributions to global health: Circulating knowledge and innovations 01.06.2019 Sinergia
172555 Blurring the Blue Line: African Police, Emergency and the Struggle for Independence in Colonial Northern Matabeleland, 1959-1980 01.04.2017 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

Violence was a central force in the establishment and upholding of colonial rule, but is rarely studied systematically as a research subject in its own right. The proposed project addresses this gap by exploring acts and perceptions of violence, particularly everyday violence, in late nineteenth and early twentieth century southwestern Africa. Everyday violence unquestionably played a crucial role in the border region of southern Namibia and the northern Cape: Africans’ day-to-day struggles with and resistance to violent colonial oppression, seizure of land and livestock as well as conscription into forced labour in the agrarian settler economy coincided with conflicts within and between African polities revolving around political power and influence, social status and economic wealth (Dooling 2009: 406-416; Henrichsen 2011: 167-191). The project explores how and in what ways everyday practices of violence such as shooting, flogging or beating and the meanings ascribed to them were (re)shaped in the border region between c. 1880 and 1910. African actors, especially Nama-Oorlam and Herero groups, are at its focus. It seeks to closely describe everyday violent practices and to situate them in the historical context of African pastoralism, settler colonialism and colonial state-building in order to gain insights into the different actors’ violent practices and to discern possible shifts. Adopting an entangled history perspective and drawing on frontier and borderland concepts, the project furthermore explores whether there were instances of mutual learning and adaptation between African, Afrikaner and European actors in the course of their (violent) encounters. The study will thus contribute to a growing body of scholarly literature in Africanist and European colonial historiography discussing shared practices of colonial violence and the role of mutual observation and knowledge transfers. The empirical analysis of everyday violent practices shifts the attention away from extreme violence, combat and warfare and de-centers previous approaches solely focusing on European colonial actors. Such a perspective yields new insights into the (trans)formation of social relations in southwestern Africa around the turn of the century and into the role of violence in settler colonialism more broadly. The project builds on a multitude of different printed, archival and oral sources. Extensive archival research will be conducted in the Namibian National Archives (NAN), Cape Town Archives, the German Federal Archive (Berlin) and the British National Archives (London). In order to discern African voices and their agency from colonial documents, a variety of reading methods will be applied and combined with oral evidence.
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