This is the dramatic story of the colonial encounter and the construction of empire in Southern Africa in the nineteenth century. What did the British make of the Xhosa and how did they make sense of their politics and culture? How did the British establish and then explain their dominion, especially when it ran counter to the cultural values they believed themselves to represent? In this book, Richard Price answers these questions by looking at the ways in which individual missionaries, officials and politicians interacted with the Xhosa. He describes how those encounters changed and shaped the culture of imperial rule in Southern Africa. He charts how an imperial regime developed both in the minds of the colonizers and in the everyday practice of power and how the British imperial presence was entangled in and shaped by the encounter with the Xhosa from the very moment of their first meeting.
Preface: intentions and purposes; 1. Encounters in empire; 2. The making of missionary culture; 3. Observation, engagement and optimism; 4. Cultural encounters: the destabilization of missionary culture; 5. Missionaries encounter the Chiefs; 6. The closing of the missionary mind; 7. Creating colonial knowledge; 8. Meetings, ceremonies and display; 9. Empire as democracy; 10. Empire and liberalism; 11. The destruction of the Xhosa Chiefs; 12. The trials of the Chiefs; 13. Postscript: endings and beginnings.
2009 Albion Prize
"This book is a brilliant entry point for anyone who wants to see how imperial rule in Africa was established… Characters leap out; their absurd antics are sometimes pure slapstick. But this is no Carry On Up the Cape. In the scale of suffering unleashed by this power struggle, it is more like Shakespearean tragedy. At times, the folly of man is overwhelming." -Joanna Lewis, Times Higher Education
"Where this books shines is in demonstrating the intricate formation of colonial knowledge and the role of the colonized in its creation." -American Historical Review
"a most impressive book...a vivid and detailed account which brings out the drama in the story and combines skillful narrative with insightful analysis'." -Times Literary Supplement
"masterful, and contribute significantly to our understanding of the building of empire and imperial culture at its edges, and of the people inexorably caught up in the process." -Journal of African History
"...gives us easily the most 'human' account yet written of the formative years of British rule in South Africa."
Victorian Studies, Martin J. Wiener, Rice University