The Scramble for Africa  book cover
3rd Edition

The Scramble for Africa

ISBN 9781408220146
Published June 10, 2010 by Routledge
196 Pages

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Book Description

In 1870 barely one tenth of Africa was under European control. By 1914 only about one tenth – Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and Liberia – was not. This book offers a clear and concise account of the ‘scramble’ or ‘race’ for Africa, the period of around 20 years during which European powers carved up the continent with little or no consultation of its inhabitants.

In her classic overview, M.E. Chamberlain:

  • Contrasts the Victorian image of Africa with what we now know of African civilisation and history
  • Examines in detail case histories from Egypt to Zimbabwe
  • Argues that the history and background of Africa are as important as European politics and diplomacy in understanding the 'scramble'
  • Considers the historiography of the topic, taking into account Marxist and anti-Marxist, financial, economic, political and strategic theories of European imperialism

This indispensible introduction, now in a fully updated third edition, provides the most accessible survey of the ‘scramble for Africa’ currently available.  The new edition includes primary source material unpublished elsewhere, new illustrations and additional pedagogical features. It is the perfect starting point for any study of this period in African history.


Table of Contents


Publisher’s acknowledgements


Who’s who




Part One: The problem

1.    Introduction

2.    The African background

3.    The Victorian image of Africa


Part Two: Analysis

4.    The British occupation of Egypt, 1882  

5.    West Africa

6.    East Africa

7.    South Africa

8.    Fashoda and the Anglo-French agreements of 1904


Part Three: Assessment

9.   Conclusion



1 David Livingstone: humanitarian

2 Commerce

3 Africa as El Dorado

4 Darkest Africa: fully developed racism

5    Stanley’s antipathy

6     Suez Canal

7    The Egyptian finances: Stephen Cave’s Report

8       Divided opinions

9       Egypt in international diplomacy

10   Death of Gordon At Khartoum

11   The desire to abandon responsibilities

12  The fears of British traders

13  The British government’s reaction

14   The Berlin West Africa conference lays down the ‘rules’ for the scramble

15  The Royal Niger Company

16  The Great Depression

17   The mixture of economic and strategic arguments

18   The ‘little Englanders’’ stand on Uganda

19  Cecil Rhodes

20  The Rudd concession

21   The Colonial Office’s doubts about the legality of the British South Africa Company’s position

22  The Fashoda incident

23  The Anglo-French agreements of April 1904

24  J. A. Hobson

25  V. I. Lenin

26  Lord Cromer

27.    A modern rejection of traditional explanations of the partition

28. Was the whole phenomenon economic after all?


Appendix: European colonial background  

Guide to further reading





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M.E. CHAMBERLAIN is Professor Emeritus at Swansea University.