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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The 'Rod of Empire': The Debate over Corporal Punishment in the British African Colonial Forces, 1888-1946
Author:Killingray, DavidISNI
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic terms:Africa
Great Britain
colonial territories
corporal punishment
colonial forces
History and Exploration
Military, Defense and Arms
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/183216
Abstract:Throughout the twentieth century the British Colonial Office sought to limit the severity of corporal punishment and to regulate more closely its use in the colonies. This article looks at one aspect of that policy involving the African Colonial Forces in British Africa over the period 1888-1946. Most military officers argued that corporal punishment was essential to maintain discipline, especially in times of war or active service. The Colonial Office sought to limit severely the circumstances in which corporal punishment could be administered but accepted that its use should be retained or revived during the two World Wars. In the Second World War the arguments for retaining corporal punishment for African soldiers were increasingly denounced by officials and various humanitarian lobbies. African Colonial Forces had come under direct War Office control in September 1939 and during the war many African soldiers served overseas alongside British and other units; they also constituted part of an imperial order which, so propaganda increasingly proclaimed after the fall of Singapore, was opposed to racial discrimination. Corporal punishment based on racial terms was out of kilter in the war and was maintained only at the insistence of senior military men. Once the war was over the Colonial Office ordered that this 'relic of discrimination' should be ended. Notes, ref., sum.