From Royalism to E-secessionism: Lozi Histories and Ethnic Politics from the Early Twentieth Century
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- Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
This essay is about the ways in which successive Lozi thinkers turned the potentialities of the book to political work and appropriated them with a view to advancing specific understandings of Lozi identity. It will begin by placing the origins of Lozi historical literature in the context of the colonial encounter between the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. The argument will be advanced that Litaba tsa Sechaba sa Marotse (History of the Lozi Nation), the first full-length history of a Zambian people to be published in the vernacular in 1910, amounted to a tool for the furtherance of the cause of the Lozi monarchy in the neo-traditionalist politics ushered in by colonial rule. Our attention will then turn to the emergence of a Lozi vernacular ethnography in the middle decades of the twentieth century. By setting these texts against the background of the mature colonial period and the coeval economic decline of Barotseland, our analysis will foreground the main moral concerns of their authors. Due emphasis will be placed on the manner in which their literary efforts contributed to foster the ethnic particularism that underlay the fraught constitutional negotiations that would eventually lead to the incorporation of Barotseland into a unitary independent state. Finally, the argument will be made that Lozi particularism, once anchored in published histories and ethnographies, is presently drifting away from these moorings. This claim will be supported by a consideration of the links between conventionally and electronically published Lozi cultural material, and of the latter’s increasingly separate and self-sustaining existence. Lozi ‘e-secessionist’ arguments, we will conclude, constitute an attempt to break from the confines of both an established literature and the post-colonial state.
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