The James Collection: Connecting Sussex with Somalia and Sudan through thefts of cooking pots and gifts of cloth
Europeans who ‘explored’ and hunted in eastern Africa in the later nineteenth century engaged local caravan traders to act as guides and protectors on their journeys from the coast to the interior. Each with loads carried by more than 200 porters, caravans brought trade goods into the region, and took out the material culture collected by the Europeans. Fleur Martin discusses how these processes of exchange – and theft – can be understood, highlighting the violence and agency that lies behind imperial collections in a case study of the James brothers’ journeys through Somalia and Sudan. Their collection of eastern African material cultural heritage is now housed at West Dean, an arts and conservation college in Sussex.
Managers from the British World: A Global Approach to Sheep Farming Industry Labour Disciplines in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, 1837-1956
From the late nineteenth century onwards, enterprising men from Britain and the British Empire began arriving in Southern Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, in Argentina and Chile. Part of a wider process of Europeanisation and capitalist colonisation, these men managed an imported activity which deeply transformed this South American borderland region: the sheep farming industry. An important part of this process was the installation of labour regimes, where managers from the British world introduced new practices of disciplining the local workforce. However, as Nicolás Gómez Baeza argues in this blog post, this history of Patagonian local capitalisms was also one of British-global-imperial transfers of diverse capitalist and management knowledge and behaviours.
A cotton growing scheme in the British ruled Aden Protectorate, the Abyan Scheme was built on transfers of knowledge from across Britain’s shrinking empire that were truly global in scope. From the immense cotton fields in Sudan to the agricultural methods taught at the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad, there was much more to the cotton grown at Abyan than met the eye. Equally, the Abyan Scheme was also not immune to the existential threat of Arab nationalism in the 1950s, as its cotton crops soon became embroiled in Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s criticisms of British imperialism. As William Harrop argues in this blog post, Abyan stands as an important case study of how global ideas of development, expertise and anti-colonialism interacted and became reshaped on a local scale.