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  • Cited by 7
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    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Bernault, Florence and Deutsch, Jan-Georg 2015. INTRODUCTION CONTROL AND EXCESS: HISTORIES OF VIOLENCE IN AFRICA. Africa, Vol. 85, Issue. 03, p. 385.

    Hynd, Stacey 2015. A Global History of Execution and the Criminal Corpse.

    Novak, Andrew 2014. The Death Penalty in Africa.

    Vaughan, Chris 2014. ‘Demonstrating the Machine Guns’: Rebellion, Violence and State Formation in Early Colonial Darfur. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Vol. 42, Issue. 2, p. 286.

    Langhamer, Claire 2012. “The Live Dynamic Whole of Feeling and Behavior”: Capital Punishment and the Politics of Emotion, 1945–1957. The Journal of British Studies, Vol. 51, Issue. 02, p. 416.

    Hynd, Stacey 2010. “The extreme penalty of the law”: mercy and the death penalty as aspects of state power in colonial Nyasaland, c. 1903–47. Journal of Eastern African Studies, Vol. 4, Issue. 3, p. 542.

    Hale, Matthew Hawkins, Richard and Wright, Catherine 2009. List of publications on the economic and social history of Great Britain and Ireland published in 2008. The Economic History Review, Vol. 62, Issue. 4, p. 953.



  • STACEY HYND (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 22 December 2008

Capital punishment in British colonial Africa was not just a method of crime control or individual punishment, but an integral aspect of colonial networks of power and violence. The treatment of condemned criminals and the rituals of execution which brought their lives to an end illustrate the tensions within colonialism surrounding the relationship between these states and their subjects, and with their metropolitan overlords. The state may have had the legal right to kill its subjects, but this right and the manner in which it was enacted were contested. This article explores the interactions between various actors in this penal ‘theatre of death’, looking at the motivations behind changing uses of the death penalty, the treatment of the condemned convicts whilst they awaited death, and the performance of a hanging itself to show how British colonial governments in Africa attempted to create and manage the deaths of their condemned subjects.

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Philip Smith , ‘Executing executions: aesthetics, identity and problematic narratives of capital punishment’, Theory & Society, 25 (1996), 254–6.

Carolyn Strange , ‘Penal undercurrents: punishment and the body in mid-twentieth century Canada’, Law & History Review, 19 (2001), 362

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The Journal of African History
  • ISSN: 0021-8537
  • EISSN: 1469-5138
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-african-history
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