A Home Made Empire: South Africa and the Imperium Before World War II


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Department of English Language and Literature


A Home Made Empire will the first book length study on South Africa that places empire at the center of the recovery of intellectual, literary and political practice in South Africa. By focusing primarily on the period between the 1880s and the 1930s I argue that the form of nation-state that South Africa inherited in 1910 is one that extended forms of empire and imperial rule. I argue that in during this period South Africa became an empire within an empire. Black political actors and intellectuals, often these processes were bound up with each other, were operating out of this matrix and as such I take seriously the importance of British imperial liberalism in their engagements with colonialism. The project begins to re-imagine how we think about South Africa’s colonial pasts and gestures towards different horizons of interpretation other than (though not against) Apartheid and to work with alternative archives and historical frameworks for making sense of colonialism and its contestation.