Traditions Can Be Changed

Tanzanian Nationalist Debates around Decolonizing »Race« and Gender, 1960s-1970s

Whether and to what extent African states and societies have been able to break away from colonial impact is a still contentious issue.

Harald Barre considers newspapers and academic activism in Tanzania as forums in which the project of an independent African nation was shaped through heated debates. Examining the changing discourses on race and gender in the 1960s and 1970s, he reveals that equating difference with inequality in the national narrative was fiercely contested. Pervasive images rooted in colonialism were thus challenged and in some cases fundamentally transformed by journalists, students, (inter)national scholars, (inter)national events and the promise of an egalitarian socialist state.

€45.00 * $55.00 *

23 November 2021, 274 pages
ISBN: 978-3-8376-5950-4

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Harald Barre

Harald Barre, Volkswagen Stiftung Hannover, Deutschland

1. Why did you chose this topic?

In 2014, I got the chance to look through some historical newspapers from the late 1960s in the East Africana Collection of the University of Dar es Salaam. I was fascinated by the open and controversial debates in the readers section. Years later, I met Deborah Brycescon, who introduced me to a range of people who worked and studied in in Tanzania during those years – their stories and the discourse in the newspaper fitted perfectly.

2. What new perspectives does your book offer?

Tanzania under Julius Nyerere is often vilified or glorified. However, the analysis of more than a decade of newspaper debates and the recollections of contemporaries illustrate the complexity of the period. Furthermore, one can neatly observe, how not only the discourse, but also individual agency changes in the course of the years.

3. What makes your topic relevant for current research debates?

One interviewees once told me: ›Tanzania is a nation of newspaper readers‹. Having written this book, I would add, it is also a nation of debaters. The book offers a unique window in the debate culture of a nation that was just forming. It contributes to ongoing debates on post-colonial nations' ability to part from their colonial heritage. However, it also adds a unique perspective to analyses of civil societal discourse, as it weaves a fabric of macro-political events, individual biographies and the public discourse.

4. Choose one person you would like to discuss your book with!

Angela Davis – she is a groundbreaking scholar. Furthermore, she is an iconic figure of the African-American struggle and she experienced Tanzania in the 1970s. She would be a wonderful discussant as both an academic as well as a contemporary.

5. Your book summary in one sentence:

In the 1960s and early 1970s, academics, officials and political activists imagined and debated what an independent Tanzania should look like.

Harald Barre
Book title
Traditions Can Be Changed Tanzanian Nationalist Debates around Decolonizing »Race« and Gender, 1960s-1970s
transcript Verlag
kart., Dispersionsbindung
Commodity Group
HIS010000 HIS037000
Release date
23 November 2021
Postkolonialismus, Gesellschaft, Zivilgesellschaft, Erinnerungskultur, Kulturgeschichte
Sociology, History, Political Science, Gender Studies, Media Studies
Memory Culture, Society, Cultural History, African History, Global History, History of Colonialism, History of the 20th Century, History

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