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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'No better than a slave or outcast': skill, identity, and power among the porters of the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition, 1887-1890
Author:Rempel, RuthISNI
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies (ISSN 0361-7882)
Geographic terms:Central Africa
East Africa
Subjects:group identity
personal names
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/25741431
Abstract:The primary purpose of the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition (1887-1890) was to provide assistance to Emin Pasha, governor of Equatoria, the southern-most province in Egypt's Sudanese empire, which was threatened by Mahdist forces and by pressure from British administrators, functioning as 'the assignees in the bankruptcy of the Egyptian government'. The Expedition crossed central Africa in the late 1880s. Many of its members were intent on maintaining or adopting distinctive identities. Its Sudanese strove to maintain a martial identity, its Manyema porters to create an ethnic and occupational one, and its Europeans to construct themselves as gentlemen, explorers, and successful imperial agents. Based on Expedition records, this article focuses on the creation of identity by the Expedition's Zanzibar-based porters, which occurred on an individual basis, but also involved a collective effort to assert themselves as 'wangwana' or 'waungwana' (freemen, gentlemen). The acquisition of particular skills and work strategies was one part of this identity creation, names were another. Porters both maintained and adopted names, a part of their process of identity creation that can be accessed through the Expedition's unusual wealth of documentation. App., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]