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Title:Transient justice: colonial judges on circuit in interwar Tanganyika
Author:Swanepoel, Paul
Periodical:Stichproben - Vienna Journal of African Studies (ISSN 1992-8610)
Geographic term:Tanzania
judicial system
legal history
colonial history
About persons:Gilchrist Alexander (1871-1958)
Mark Wilson (1896-1956)
External link:http://stichproben.univie.ac.at/fileadmin/user_upload/p_stichproben/Artikel/Nummer24/24_Swanepoel.pdf
Abstract:Colonial legal historiography has tended to focus on customary tribunals rather than 'European' courts. This research paper offers a new vantage point from which to view Tanganyika's legal system by looking at the day-to-day experiences of two colonial judges. The overwhelming number of studies on the Colonial Service are centred on administrative officers, and emphasise the importance of the district commissioner, the 'man on the pot', who served at the interface of the encounter between coloniser and colonised. By using judicial biographies, this research paper suggests a new line of inquiry into the nature of colonial power in order to offer a view from inside the colonial modernising project, and expose its fissiparous nature. Both judges were stationed in Dar es Salaam, but ventured periodically by rail into the interior on circuit in order to 'administer justice to the people'. This brought them into contact with a wide range of historical actors including district commissioners, prosecutors, witnesses, assessors and interpreters. This paper demonstrates how this form of transient justice brought these actors together in a unique way that transcended the complex web of delineations that divided them outside the courtroom. Bibliogr., notes, ref. sum. [Journal abstract]