Imperialism, Race, and Resistance: Africa and Britain, 1919-1945

In This Review

Imperialism, Race, and Resistance: Africa and Britain, 1919-1945

By Barbara Bush
Routledge, 1999
412 pp. $24.99

This exhaustively researched study by a British academic synthesizes a vast amount of material on British colonialism in West and South Africa in the interwar years and adds an extended look at racial attitudes and confrontations in Britain in the same era. The author aims to reveal the close two-way relationship between the racism of imperial practices and African anti-imperialist reactions. Although her analysis borrows heavily from earlier works on imperial history, it admirably weaves together numerous themes that are often treated separately, including colonialist discourse and culture, attitudes towards gender, economic exploitation, the psychology of white liberals, and the effects of Britain's own "race problem" on its imperial retreat. The preponderance of sources by whites, however, means black views are less extensively represented. The author concludes that the African colonial experience was largely negative and that the principal lesson of the interwar years is still relevant today: resistance to foreign domination is the key to a better future. A densely fact-packed work, less an introduction to its subject than a resource for teachers and researchers.

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