“Anyone seeking to understand the colonial roots of urban and national problems in, at the least, Anglophonic Africa, should read this book.”
“African Underclass examines the social, political, and administrative repercussions of rapid urbanization in colonial Dar es Salaam and the evolution of official policy that viewed urbanization as inextricably linked with social disorder. This policy marginalized young Africans entering the town-and thus, paradoxically, the policy itself subverted the colonial order. Well researched and sharply written-one of the best and most stimulating accounts of urbanization in Eastern Africa to have been produced in recent years.”
John McCracken, emeritus professor of history, University of Stirling
“Burton’s book is a masterful survey of the development of Dar es Salaam’s underworld....this volume will cement his influence.”
American Historical Review
African Underclass examines the social, political, and administrative repercussions of rapid urban growth in Dar es Salaam. The origins of an often coercive response to urbanization in postcolonial Tanzania are traced back to the colonial period. The British reacted to unanticipated urban growth by attempting to limit the process, though this failed to prevent a substantial increase in rates of urbanization.
Instead, official policy marginalized the growing numbers of Africans who failed to fit colonial criteria for town residence. An underclass emerged whose rights to urban citizenship were eroded by a policy response to urbanization that criminalized not only many of the economic activities adopted by Africans, but often their very presence in the town. This was influenced by entrenched attitudes among official, settler, and elite African opinion that linked the phenomenon of urbanization with social disorder.
Andrew Burton is an honorary research associate of the British Institute in Eastern Africa, currently based in Addis Ababa. His publications include African Underclass: Urbanisation, Crime & Colonial Order in Dar es Salaam and the coedited volume Dar es Salaam: Histories from an Emerging African Metropolis.
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