“Custodians of the Land goes a long way in helping us define and delimit African environmental history; it offers a full range of empirical evidence as well as a wide range of interpretive possibilities. This book successfully sets a coherent agenda for other national historiographies and strongly attests to the quality of scholarship in the field.”
James C. McCann, Agricultural History
Farming and pastoral societies inhabit ever-changing environments. This relationship between environment and rural culture, politics and economy in Tanzania is the subject of this volume which will be valuable in reopening debates on Tanzanian history.
In his conclusion, Isaria N. Kimambo, a founding father of Tanzanian history, reflects on the efforts of successive historians to strike a balance between external causes of change and local initiative in their interpretations of Tanzanian history.
He shows that nationalist and Marxist historians of Tanzanian history, understandably preoccupied through the first quarter-century of the country's post-colonial history with the impact of imperialism and capitalism on East Africa, tended to overlook the initiatives taken by rural societies to transform themselves.
Yet there is good reason for historians to think about the causes of change and innovation in the rural communities of Tanzania, because farming and pastoral people have constantly changed as they adjusted to shifting environmental conditions.
Gregory H. Maddox is a professor of history at Texas Southern University and author of Sub-Saharan Africa: An Environmental History and coauthor of Practicing History in Central Tanzania: Writing, Memory, and Performance. More info →
James L. Giblin is an associate professor of history at the University of Iowa. More info →
Isaria N. Kimambo is Professor of History at the University of Dar es Salaam. More info →
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Forests have been at the fault lines of contact between African peasant communities in the Tanzanian coastal hinterland and outsiders for almost two centuries. In recent decades, a global call for biodiversity preservation has been the main challenge to Tanzanians and their forests. Thaddeus Sunseri uses the lens of forest history to explore some of the most profound transformations in Tanzania from the nineteenth century to the present.
The twentieth-century history of Njombe, the Southern Highlands district of Tanzania, can aptly be summed up as exclusion within incorporation. Njombe was marginalized even as it was incorporated into the colonial economy. Njombe’s people came to see themselves as excluded from agricultural markets, access to medical services, schooling—in short, from all opportunity to escape the impoverishing trap of migrant labor.
The double-sided nature of African nationalism—its capacity to inspire expressions of unity, and its tendency to narrow political debate—are explored by sixteen historians, focusing on the experience of Tanzania.
Highland Sanctuary unravels the complex interactions among agriculture, herding, forestry, the colonial state, and the landscape itself. Conte’s study illuminates the debate over conservation, arguing that contingency and chance, the stuff of human history, have shaped forests in ways that rival the power of nature.