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The elephant shooting: Inconsistencies of colonial law and indirect rule in Kaoko (north-western Namibia) in the 1920s and 1930s


Rizzo, Lorena (2007). The elephant shooting: Inconsistencies of colonial law and indirect rule in Kaoko (north-western Namibia) in the 1920s and 1930s. The journal of African history, 48(2):245-266.

Abstract

The law as a means of sociopolitical control in colonial states has gained significance as an issue in the recent historiography of Africa. This article discusses the making of a criminal case in colonial Kaoko, northwestern Namibia in the 1920s and 30s. It focuses on the problem of African voice and narrative and the ways in which they have been transformed into written evidence in the course of legal investigation. It demonstrates that the archival documents which emerged from this case require careful methodological scrutiny if they are to be used for the reconstruction of the region's past. It goes beyond colonial law as constituting a particular discourse to conceive colonial law as a space for intervention and agency for both colonized and colonizers. The central argument raised in the article is that while the South African administration in northwestern Namibia allegedly aimed at prosecuting culprits and securing evidence for their transgressions, men and women in Kaoko used colonial law as an arena for the negotiation of social and political issues. Concerned with the case's impact on the configuration of gender, the article shows how colonial law became both a site of male representation and power, and a space for female contestation of male claims to sociopolitical mastery.

The law as a means of sociopolitical control in colonial states has gained significance as an issue in the recent historiography of Africa. This article discusses the making of a criminal case in colonial Kaoko, northwestern Namibia in the 1920s and 30s. It focuses on the problem of African voice and narrative and the ways in which they have been transformed into written evidence in the course of legal investigation. It demonstrates that the archival documents which emerged from this case require careful methodological scrutiny if they are to be used for the reconstruction of the region's past. It goes beyond colonial law as constituting a particular discourse to conceive colonial law as a space for intervention and agency for both colonized and colonizers. The central argument raised in the article is that while the South African administration in northwestern Namibia allegedly aimed at prosecuting culprits and securing evidence for their transgressions, men and women in Kaoko used colonial law as an arena for the negotiation of social and political issues. Concerned with the case's impact on the configuration of gender, the article shows how colonial law became both a site of male representation and power, and a space for female contestation of male claims to sociopolitical mastery.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of History
Dewey Decimal Classification:900 History
Language:English
Date:5 September 2007
Deposited On:11 May 2012 09:27
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:48
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0021-8537
Publisher DOI:10.1017/S0021853707002745
Official URL:http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=AFH
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-62263

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