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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Indirect rule and colonial intervention: chiefs and agrarian change in Nyasaland, ca. 1933 to the early 1950s
Author:Green, ErikISNI
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies (ISSN 0361-7882)
Geographic term:Malawi
Subjects:indirect rule
Abstract:Indirect rule reveals the ambiguousness of colonial rule. It was based on social conservative ideas at the same time as it was supposed to facilitate change through colonial intervention in local farming systems. This paper addresses these ambiguities by focusing on the role of indirect rule in the early years of colonial intervention in rural Nyasaland (now Malawi). It compares two districts: Thyolo, where chieftainship was regarded as fluid by the colonial authorities, and Mzimba district in which the local hierarchies were believed to be well defined. The findings from Tyolo and Mzimba suggest that the role of indirect rule, in terms of facilitating or hampering colonial intervention, should not be exaggerated. The system of indirect rule depended on a chief's capability and willingness to act as both agent and principal. The colonial authorities had to ensure that chiefs acted as agents for the government while at the same time holding powers to control its subjects. This made the system very complex and difficult for the colonial administration to utilize for their purposes. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]