Language and Colonial Power: The Appropriation of Swahili in the Former Belgian Congo, 1880-1938

Language and Colonial Power: The Appropriation of Swahili in the Former Belgian Congo, 1880-1938

by Johannes Fabian

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Overview

Language and Colonial Power: The Appropriation of Swahili in the Former Belgian Congo, 1880-1938 by Johannes Fabian

Among the preconditions for establishing colonial authority was communication with the colonised. Verbal exchanges depended on a shared communicative praxis providing common ground on which unilateral claims could be imposed. Use of, and control over, verbal means of communication were needed to maintain regimes - military, religious-ideological, economic - in power. In the Belgian Congo brutal physical force never ceased to be exercised. In this study Professor Fabian examines the more subtle uses of power through controls on communication, by looking at the history of Swahili as it spread from the East Coast to Central Africa and demonstrating connections between -changing forms of colonial power and the development of policies towards Swahili. Using a wide range of sources, including numerous and sometimes obscure vocabularies, he combines concepts derived from literary theory and sociolinguistics to uncover, through the flaws and failures of these texts, deep-seated attitudes to language and communication.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780521308700
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 04/01/1986
Series: African Studies Series , #48
Pages: 214
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.67(d)

Table of Contents

Forewordvii
Acknowledgementsviii
A note on names and orthographyix
Introduction1
1Prelude: expeditions and campaigns13
Polyglotta Africana15
Swahili guides for the road19
On the road: language and travel24
End of the road33
2Questions and queries42
A question of law and rights: language and the Colonial Charter44
A question of facts: language in an early government survey49
Responses from businessmen and administrators53
Responses from missionaries and educators58
A question of power: warnings from Katanga63
Some general conclusions65
3Settling in: colonization and language70
Missions, education and the oeuvre civilisatrice71
Missionary linguistics75
Religious and secular colonization: common ground78
Language guides and teaching aids84
Colonial language training in Belgium88
4Labor and language in Katanga92
Labor in Katanga: a complicated story92
Swahili as a symbol of 'reorientation': consolidation of Belgian rule in Katanga100
Swahili as a work-language: some structural determinants106
5Talking tough and bad: pidginization in Katanga112
Missionaries teaching colonists112
Colonists teaching colonists: a guide for farmers in Katanga114
The most common words in Katanga: a curious early manual124
Conclusion: no missing link133
6The end: illusions of colonial power135
Swahili and symbolic power136
Codified Swahili in the eastern Congo: an inventory 1918-38142
'Improved Swahili': Union Miniere and A. Verbeken148
A voice not heard: A. Melignon and the 'rehabilitation' of Swahili in Katanga157
Notes163
Bibliography188
Index201

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