Bourgeois Biography and Colonial Historiography

A Review Essay Dedicated to the late Michael Crowder

Publication Date: 26/02/2022

Journal: Journal of Southern African Studies

Reissue Date:

Page start: 550

Page End: 562

Volume: 3

Edition: 16

Based on an account of the flogging of a white man, Phinehas McIntosh, at the behest of an African ruler in colonial Bechuanaland, and on the edited diary of a British ruler in the same colony, this review essay offers a critique of received liberal approaches to imperial history, one that treats biography and event as largely unmoored – conceptually, methodologically, and theoretically – from the structural conditions that produce those biographies and events. Bourgeois biography and colonial historiography, it argues, are integral to the regimes of knowledge on which imperial hegemonies are founded and sustained – and, therefore, call for deconstruction in favor of critical, dialectical approaches to writing the past.

Other Essays