The Scramble for Africa: 3rd Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Scramble for Africa

3rd Edition

By M. E. Chamberlain


196 pages

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Paperback: 9781408220146
pub: 2010-06-10
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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 The new edition includes primary source material unpublished elsewhere, new illustrations and additional pedagogical features.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



About the Author

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

About the Series

Seminar Studies

Each book in the Seminar Studies series provides a concise and reliable introduction to a wide range of complex historical events and debates, covering topics in British, European, US and world history from the early modern period to the present day. Written by acknowledged experts and including supporting material such as extracts from historical documents, chronologies, glossaries, guides to key figures and further reading suggestions, Seminar Studies titles are essential reading for students of history.

Almost half a century after its launch, the series continues to introduce students to the problems involved in explaining the past, giving them the opportunity to grapple with historical documents and encouraging them to reach their own conclusions. To submit proposals for new books in the Seminar Studies series, please contact the series editors:

Clive.Emsley: clive.emsley @

Gordon Martel: Gordon.Martel @

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Africa / General