Economic and Financial Histories of Central Africa I (double panel)
Date and Start Time 01 July, 2017 at 14:00
This panel intends to explore the intertwined economic and financial history of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and neighbouring territories between the 1880s and 1960s.
Economic and financial histories of the colonial period in Central Africa remain few and far between. Understanding how economies in the region developed, functioned and interacted is crucial to understanding the history of the region, yet there are major issues which have not been explored. Existing histories have primarily been conducted on a national basis without a full appreciation of how the histories of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and neighbouring territories have been intertwined, either under the auspices of the Central African Federation or prior to this. Moreover, there has been a focus on labour migration which, while undoubtedly important, has obscured the accompanying emergence and imposition of a cash economy.
We propose a panel examining the entangled economic and financial histories of Central Africa from the 1880s to the 1960s. We welcome papers which address the following topics:
- Regional economic integration and dependence.
- The emergence of the cash economy and the circulation of currency.
- The role of domestic and international capital.
- Extractive industries and imperial influence.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
''Finding the surroundings more congenial outside Barotseland": slavery, resistance and labour migration in Central Africa.
This paper will, via an examination of the uptake, scale and particular trajectory of labour migration from Barotseland, present-day western Zambia, examine the hitherto overlooked connections between precolonial slavery, abolition, emancipation and labour migration in Central Africa c.1890 to 1940.
Recent work, particularly from scholars studying slavery and emancipation in West Africa, has highlighted the hitherto neglected importance of the links between migration and emancipation in the economic and labour history of Africa. This paper, inspired by this new intellectual departure, attempts to give the history of Central Africa a similar treatment. In order to do so, this paper will trace the deeply interwoven history of slavery, abolition and labour migration which lies at the heart of the transformation of the powerful, centralised precolonial Lozi kingdom into one of southern Africa's colonial migrant labour reserves par excellence. While cognisant of the fact the subject has tended to dominate economic histories of the region to the detriment of other issues, this paper seeks to demonstrate that there remains much to be gained through a new approach labour migration.
Focusing on a series of crucial events over half a century, this paper will examine the integration of Barotseland into emerging colonial economies, but inject for the first time the question of emancipation into the familiar economic equations said to govern the rise of labour migration in region. More widely, it will both cast new light on the nineteenth-century history of slavery in central Africa, and demonstrate a clear relationship between precolonial slavery and colonial migrant labour. It is this fundamental dynamic - the transformation of an economy based upon slavery into one based upon migrant labour, the transformation of slaves into migrant labourers - that is the central concern of this paper.
The Politics of Migrant Labour Remittances between Rhodesia and Nyasaland: 1936 -1963
This article historicizes the colonial migrant labour remittance and deferred pay system between Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland from 1936 to the end of the Federation period in 1963.
Through a series of labour agreements between the 1930s and 1960s, pushed through by the late British Labour government, Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland established a complex cash remittance system for migrant labourers aimed at ensuring and monopolising a steady inflow of northern labour for the former, and protecting and maximise benefit from labour exports for the latter state and the families of the migrants. Remittances and deferred pay were thus at the centre of a Central African financial and cash economy, falling under the Sterling area, that was intertwined and functioned mainly for the benefit of the colonial state. Therefore, using mainly archival data from repositories in Harare, Zomba, London and Oxford, this article historicizes the colonial migrant labour remittance and deferred pay system between Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland from 1936 to the end of the Federation period in 1963. It investigates the rationale behind the system, the drivers, the logic, processes, reception and its impact on Africans in particular. In this vein the article explores the system's vacillating or ambiguous popularity and function between the migrant workers in Rhodesia and family recipients in Nyasaland. An analysis of these dynamics casts light and insights into the technicalities and functionalities of the post-colonial forms of diasporic remittances, with the article underlining that the more famous contemporary diaspora remittance system has its antecedents in its colonial predecessor which, unfortunately, has remained largely invisible in the historiography of the economic and financial histories of Southern and Central Africa.
Integrating or disaggregating economic histories? Changing occupational structures in Zambia and regional dynamics, c.1911-2010
This paper examines a century of changing occupational structures in Zambia and patterns of economic growth, and aims to relate this to wider dynamics in central Africa.
This paper examines a century of changing occupational structures in Zambia and patterns of economic growth, and aims to relate this to wider dynamics in central Africa. Much of the existing literature assumes that Zambia's mineral-led economic growth produced a predominately urbanised economy distinct from economies in Malawi, where agriculture dominated, or Zimbabwe, which experienced broader-based development. These assumptions will be tested using data from a century of censuses, labour force surveys, and company sources on the numbers of people employed in different occupations and the estimated proportions employed in primary, secondary, or tertiary sectors.
These sources are extremely patchy in the earlier twentieth-century but improve substantially following the Second World War when colonial censuses began to tabulate a district-level breakdown of the numbers employed in different occupations. Large employers in the mining industry also retained detailed employment records from the 1940s until the 1990s. Data derived from these sources on Zambia will be compared with work already done on occupational structures in Malawi and Zimbabwe to address the question: Did a distinct national economy develop in Zambia, or is it better understood in a regional framework?
Reconfiguring Rhodesia's finances for a post-imperial world: the monetary reconstitution of a settler state, 1962-1965
Banking, finance, Rhodesia, decolonisation
The Rhodesia Front (RF) government, elected to power in December 1962, made a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) on 11 November 1965. Its rebellion against imperial Britain occurred in a period of decolonization characterized by the attainment of majority rule in African countries. Having enjoyed settler colonial status accompanied by much political and economic room to maneuver since 1923, the white minority Rhodesian electorate voted the RF into in 1962 to protect their interests. Although literature has focused variously on the British-Rhodesian impasse, UDI and the liberation struggle, it has neglected historical financial developments, without which the UDI would never have been declared and sustained for fifteen years thereafter. This article provides a first in-depth perspective on how financial reconstitution was just as important as political, social and military considerations in the period between the RF's rise to power and its rebellion. Central to its analysis is changing imperial and colonial economic relations. Although Rhodesia's financial system was fully integrated into London's sterling area between 1890 and the 1960s, this link was severed following the 1965 Rhodesia rebellion and a post-sterling Rhodesian financial system emerged. As London had ruled out military invasion to stop Salisbury's rebellion, its only alternative was economic sanctions on the basis of its historical control of the colony's financial system in circumstances where the colony was keen on using financial instruments to survive punitive exchange control measures and sustain minority rule. The paper examines the financial makings of this imperial-colonial conflict and the considerations and activities on the eve of Rhodesia's UDI.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.