Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, History, Northwestern University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2011
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Northwestern University
Crafting Cosmopolitanisms: Nyamwezi Male Labour and Consumption c.1850-1917

In my dissertation I will use the decisions of men from Unyamwezi (western Tanzania) about labour and consumption to explore the ways in which succeeding generations strove to reshape and attain honourable male adulthoods in the context of the dramatic economic and politicall changes of the late-precolonial and early-colonial periods. This topic refocuses studies of the early colonial period through opening up questions obscured by recent trends in colonial scholarship which have prioritised “colonial middles” – relatively privileged colonial subjects who translated between colonial and mission programmes and local societies. Despite the significant contributions of this innovative body of work, in prioritising mediations between western and local power structures and discourses it occludes consideration of regional connections and mobility. In contrast, putting the aspirations and actions of Nyamwezi men at the centre of my study opens up questions about the emergence of a new route to male adulthood predicated on participation in emergent regional networks – what I name a cosmopolitan masculinity – during the nineteenth century. How did this cosmopolitanism – and the regional connections it sustained – constrain or enable Nyamwezi men in their encounters with specific colonial policies and actions? Furthermore, to what extent did Nyamwezi men reshape regional networks and aspirations for a male adulthood in response to the economic, political and military strategies of the German colonial state? In its focus on networks, connectivity and the limits to connectivity, my dissertation engages with and builds on globalization scholarship, providing a detailed study of the construction and refiguration of a regional network, linked to but not fully absorbable into wider transcontinental connections. In addition, my work will contribute to studies of precolonial and colonial African history, of African masculinities and of cosmopolitanism and colonialism.