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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:War, racism, and the taking of heads: revisiting military conflict in the Cape Colony and western Xhosaland in the nineteenth century
Author:Webb, Denver A.
Periodical:The Journal of African History (ISSN 0021-8537)
Geographic terms:South Africa
The Cape
physical anthropology
External link:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021853714000693
Abstract:The emergence of scientific racism and the taking of heads and skulls in the nineteenth-century colonial wars in Southern Africa have received limited attention from historians. Closer examination of head-taking in colonial wars fought in the western parts of Xhosaland and the Cape Colony suggests that the rise of scientific racism alone does not explain the complex interplay between military discourse on Africans, atrocities committed, and commonplace racial attitudes. A detailed examination of the incidents of head-taking in the colonial conflicts against the Xhosa indicates the practice evolved over time, had several causes, and became an increasingly common part of the construction and re-enforcement of a racial identity and culture of domination by British and colonial soldiers. It also suggests that for the Xhosa, the taking of heads was a behaviour acquired from the British. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]