The historiography of the late colonial era has had a love-hate relationship with the colonial state. In the early years of post-colonial independence, much history was written to record and celebrate the achievements of ‘nation-building’. The founding fathers of independence had defeated the colonial state in their struggle against its oppressions. The old state, now under new management, but with the same boundaries, language and (usually) administrative structure, had become a nation, with an undisputed claim to the loyalty of its former colonial subjects. The task of the historian was to show how a national identity had emerged ineluctably from the bundle of districts cellotaped together by colonialism into a dependency, and how it had been mobilised to throw off colonial rule and create a sovereign nation. Subsequently, as this version of the recent colonial past was undermined by the difficulties and divisions of the independent present, and, in some cases, by disillusionment with its ruling elite, the focus shifted towards the sources of popular resistance in the colonial period. In this ‘subaltern’ history, the emphasis was upon uncovering rural struggles, local solidarities, and ‘hidden’ communities of belief that colonial rulers had ignored, or suppressed but which had played a key part in destroying the legitimacy and exercise of their power. The implication here was that the colonial state was an alien coercive force whose continuation into the post-colonial era (even with a change of crew) had frustrated social justice and the achievement of an authentic post-colonial identity.