The Aborigines' Protection Society as an imperial knowledge network: the writing and representation of black South African letters to the APS, 1879-1888




Reid, Darren

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This thesis presents a case study of letters written by black South Africans to the Aborigines' Protection Society (APS) between 1879-1888. Recognizing that previous histories of the APS have been based primarily on British correspondence, this thesis contends that including these marginalized black letters is crucial if historians are to develop a nuanced understanding of the APS in particular, and of British imperialism in general. By placing these letters within a framework of imperial knowledge networks, this thesis traces how the messages and voices of black South African correspondents traveled in letter form to England and then were disseminated in published form by the APS. This thesis demonstrates how correspondents used writing to the APS as a tool of anti-colonial resistance, as well as how the APS used their positionality to censor and control the voices of its correspondents. Emphasizing the entanglement of correspondents' resistance and adaptation with the APS's imperialist mission, this thesis presents its case study as a window into the negotiated and unstable natures of British imperialism.



South African history, British imperial history, Aborigines Protection Society, knowledge circulation, colonial resistance, Imperial knowledge