Biographical research can illuminate imperial and colonial history. This is particularly true of Africa, where empires competed with one another and colonial society was characterised by rigid divisions. In this book, five biographical studies explore how, in the course of their lives, interpreters, landowners, students and traders navigated the boundaries between the various spaces of the colonial world. With a focus on African life worlds, the authors show the disruptions and constraints as well as the new options and forms of mobility that resulted from colonial rule. This book was originally published as a special issue of The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth Studies.
Introduction: Biographies Between Spheres of Empire Achim von Oppen and Silke Strickrodt
1. The English Interpreters in Dahomey, 1843–1852 Robin Law
2. David Meetom: Interpreting, Power and the Risks of Intermediation in the Initial Phase of German Colonial Rule in Cameroon Ulrike Schaper
3. Transcending Gender Roles, Crossing Racial and Political Boundaries: Agnes Hill’s Fight for her Inheritance in German Southwest Africa Ulrike Lindner
4. The Awkward Squad: Arts Graduates from British Tropical Africa Before 1940 Andrew D. Roberts
5. ‘No One Knows What He is Until He is Told’: Audience and Personhood in a Colonial African Diary Ruth Watson