shopping_cart

The Gun in Central Africa
A History of Technology and Politics

By Giacomo Macola

“Giacomo Macola makes a serious contribution to our understanding of nineteenth-century African history, and specifically to the history of warfare and military organization in Africa. Few scholars have positioned firearms at the centre of their work in quite this manner, making this an innovative and distinctive intervention.”

Richard Reid, professor of African history, SOAS

“In tracking the history of guns in late precolonial and early colonial history, Macola deftly draws on concepts from science, technology, and society (STS), consumption, and material-culture studies, placing African history in conversation with those fields…In his final chapter, [he] connects his story to recent histories of violence, intercontinental trade, and armament in central Africa, demonstrating anew that precolonial African history is both accessible in, and essential to, understanding contemporary Africa.”

Journal of Interdisciplinary History

“…Provides a fascinating perspective on the evolution of societies, trade, ethnic rivalries, and war in the decades leading up to the European scramble for the continent… Macola’s broader purpose is to place the study of precolonial Africa back on the scholarly agenda and show how it remains relevant today. The conclusion of his fine book suggests a link between the adoption of firearms in central Africa a century and a half ago and the motivations and actions of the young men in today’s eastern Congo who join militias and spread insecurity and violence.”

Foreign Affairs

The Gun in Central Africa … is a methodological triumph … Macola’s command of language and local histories opens a new window on not just the Scramble for Africa but also the motivations of today’s militias in eastern Congo.”

Joanna Lewis, assistant professor in the department of international history, London School of Economics

Why did some central African peoples embrace gun technology in the nineteenth century, and others turn their backs on it? In answering this question, The Gun in Central Africa offers a thorough reassessment of the history of firearms in central Africa. Marrying the insights of Africanist historiography with those of consumption and science and technology studies, Giacomo Macola approaches the subject from a culturally sensitive perspective that encompasses both the practical and the symbolic attributes of firearms.

Informed by the view that the power of objects extends beyond their immediate service functions, The Gun in Central Africa presents Africans as agents of technological re-innovation who understood guns in terms of their changing social structures and political interests. By placing firearms at the heart of the analysis, this volume casts new light on processes of state formation and military revolution in the era of the long-distance trade, the workings of central African gender identities and honor cultures, and the politics of the colonial encounter.

Giacomo Macola is senior lecturer in African history at the University of Kent and research fellow in the Centre for Africa Studies of the University of the Free State. The author of Liberal Nationalism in Central Africa: A Biography of Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula, he has also coedited (with Derek Peterson) Recasting the Past: History Writing and Political Work in Modern Africa.More info →

Order a print copy

Paperback · $26.36 ·
Add to Cart

Retail price: $32.95 · Save 20% ($26.36)

Hardcover · $64 ·
Add to Cart

Retail price: $80.00 · Save 20% ($64)

Buy from a local bookstore

IndieBound

US and Canada only

Download an electronic copy

Amazon Kindle Store Barnes & Noble NOOK Google Play iBooks Store

Availability and price vary according to vendor.

Cover of The Gun in Central Africa

Share    Facebook icon  Email icon

Requests

Desk Copy Examination Copy Review Copy

Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center

Formats

Paperback
978-0-8214-2212-0
Retail price: $32.95, S.
Release date: April 2016
13 illus. · 266 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights:  World

Hardcover
978-0-8214-2211-3
Retail price: $80.00, S.
Release date: April 2016
13 illus. · 266 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights:  World

Electronic
978-0-8214-4555-6
Release date: April 2016
13 illus. · 266 pages
Rights:  World

Additional Praise for The Gun in Central Africa

”Macola’s book, with its focus on the symbolic and social value of firearms, tells us something new and original about Africa’s history and in particular about the different ways in which African societies actively incorporated the exogenous flow of technology brought by international trade. At the same time, it is undoubtedly a valuable book for scholars who wish to understand better the present dynamics of warfare in central Africa.”

Journal of Southern African Studies

“[Macola] reveals the limits of the theory of technological determinism and ascriptions of agency in a provocative argument about the localization of technology that removes its independent power but enhances its significance in other ways. Students of nineteenth-century history and colonial conquest in Africa will find here many challenges to received opinion as well as new entrées into the history of other eras and even technologies.”

Michigan War Studies Review

Related Titles

Cover of 'Recasting the Past'

Recasting the Past
History Writing and Political Work in Modern Africa
Edited by Derek R. Peterson and Giacomo Macola

The study of intellectual history in Africa is in its infancy. We know very little about what Africa’s thinkers made of their times. Recasting the Past brings one field of intellectual endeavor into view. The book takes its place alongside a small but growing literature that highlights how, in autobiographies, historical writing, fiction, and other literary genres, African writers intervened creatively in their political world.

African History · African Studies · History

Cover of 'Violent Intermediaries'

Violent Intermediaries
African Soldiers, Conquest, and Everyday Colonialism in German East Africa
By Michelle R. Moyd

The askari, African soldiers recruited in the 1890s to fill the ranks of the German East African colonial army, occupy a unique space at the intersection of East African history, German colonial history, and military history.

African History · African Studies · History · Military History · Germany · Western Europe · Europe · Africa