War of Words, War of Stones

War of Words, War of Stones

Racial Thought and Violence in Colonial Zanzibar
Jonathon Glassman
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/21/2011
Format: Paperback 15 b&w illus., 5 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-22280-0
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Winner, 2011 Martin A. Klein Award, American Historical AssociationFinalist, 2012 Herskovits Award

The Swahili coast of Africa is often described as a paragon of transnational culture and racial fluidity. Yet, during a brief period in the 1960s, Zanzibar became deeply divided along racial lines as intellectuals and activists, engaged in bitter debates about their nation’s future, ignited a deadly conflict that spread across the island. War of Words, War of Stones explores how violently enforced racial boundaries arose from Zanzibar’s entangled history. Jonathon Glassman challenges explanations that assume racial thinking in the colonial world reflected only Western ideas. He shows how Africans crafted competing ways of categorizing race from local tradition and engagement with the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds.

Author Bio

Jonathon Glassman is Associate Professor of History at Northwestern University. He is author of Feasts and Riot: Revelry, Rebellion, and Popular Consciousness on the Swahili Coast, 1856–1888, which was awarded the Herskovits Prize in African Studies.


“In the 1960s, Zanzibar became deeply divided along racial lines. This book explores how violently enforced racial boundaries arose from Zanzibar’s entangled history and challenges explanations that assume racial thinking in the colonial world reflected only Western ideas.”

“A boldly conceived and meticulously conducted study that throws down a challenge to the writing of African politics in the twentieth century. . . . sure to unsettle, provoke, and guide for years to come.”
 — Pier M. Larson, Johns Hopkins University

“In this brave and powerful book Glassman shows that African thinking about nationhood wasn't abstract, but sometimes rooted in ideas about history, culture, and physical bodies. And while race and ethnicity were social constructions made on the ground, that ground itself was fissured by claims and disclaims of ancestry and birthplace and by weakened plantation economies and the evictions of squatters. With painstaking care and painful clarity Glassman maps that ground, on which ideas about race and ideas about nation were translated into terror and trauma.”
 — Luise White, University of Florida

“This book is painstakingly researched, providing a compelling portrait of the intricacies of Zanzibari politics in the post-independence period and the historical legacies that shaped those politics. Glassman's theorizing of race in relation to memory, nationalism, and modernity is provocative, raising questions that will certainly stimulate debate.”
 — American Historical Review

“This book is a well organized and well written account of Zanzibar's 'time of politics,' a period spanning from the first elections in 1957 until independence in 1963. A critical political and intellectual history, this book is required reading for anyone interested in Tanzania's history. It, moreover, is a valuable contribution to literature on racial thought and relations in Africa that will appeal widely to both scholars and students.”
 — African Studies Quarterly

“[Achieves] a valuable contribution to the study of political discourse, violence, and the organization of space and social relationships in Zanzibar. More generally . . . provide[s] interesting discussions of colonialism, power, identity politics and the ideology of modernization.Nov. 2012”
 — Africa

“Highly recommended. ”
 — Choice

“On the whole, the book is well researched and written, and presents the most comprehensive and rigorous study of popular and intellectual discourses on nationalist politics on the islands. . . . It is scrongly recommended to whoever wishes to understand Zanzibar's political history from colonial times to the present. ”
 — H-Africa / H-net

“This book is a well-researched and thorough history of the racial and nationalist discourse during the Time of Politics in the Zanzibar Islands. . . . It is highly recommended for graduate-level courses on race, nationalism, identity, politics, and Zanzibar.”
 — Islamic Africa

“[This] book is first and foremost a political and cultural history of the last decade before independence, whose detailed and finely-depicted intricacies, grounded in numerous archival sources and interviews, are explored . . . War of Words, War of Stones is of interest not only to historians but also to sociologists, political scientists, and anthropologists interested in unravelling the threads of wide-scale violence.LIII (4) 212 2013”
 — Cahiers d'Etudes africaines

“This book is a towering achievement. Glassman has gone a long way toward setting the record straight about the sources of racial animosity in late colonial Zanzibar. . . . [T]his immeasurbaly brilliant book . . . will provide a new benchmark for understanding Zanzibari political history. ”
 — Journal of Historical Geography

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Note on Usage

Part 1. Introduction
1. Rethinking Race in the Colonial World
2. The Creation of a Racial State
Part 2. War of Words
3. A Secular Intelligentsia and the Origins of Exclusionary Ethnic Nationalism
4. Subaltern Intellectuals and the Rise of Racial Nationalism
5. Politics and Civil Society during the Newspaper Wars
Part 3. War of Stones
6. Rumor, Race, and Crime
7. Violence as Racial Discourse
8. "June" as Chosen Trauma
Conclusion and Epilogue: Remaking Race

List of References

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