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The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V: Historiography$
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Robin Winks

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205661

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205661.001.0001

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Southern and Central Africa

Southern and Central Africa

(p.513) 33 Southern and Central Africa
The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V: Historiography

William H. Worger

Oxford University Press

Between the 1860s and the First World War, all the indigenous inhabitants of southern and central Africa were brought under British rule. Historical writing on southern Africa, including what later became British Central Africa, began at the same time. Most English-speaking historians writing in South Africa after the First World War were certain that colonial expansion and white settlement were necessary for the economic uplift and civilizing of Africans, but highly critical of the racial policies being espoused by Afrikaner nationalists. With the British Empire virtually coming to an end in the 1950s and 1960s, and the transition to a multiracial majority-ruled Commonwealth receiving its greatest challenge in apartheid South Africa and federating Central Africa, Thompson’s contemporaries focused on the historical roles of white settlers and Imperial officials in bringing about division when there should have been unity. The writing of history has not flourished on campuses in the independent states, and the bulk of work done has been pursued in the universities of Europe and North America. In such circumstances, debate about the legacy of Empire will be as intense in the future as it has been in the past.

Keywords:   Southern Africa, Central Africa, British rule, historical writing, First World War, British Empire, Commonwealth

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