Colonial and Postcolonial Logistics
This article addresses the logistical aspects of colonial and postcolonial governmental practices and the way in which such practices structured the African territory. In particular, it focuses on Zambia (Northern Rhodesia at time of British domination), a landlocked country located in the centre of Southern Africa, whose historical evolution, since it was conquered at the beginning of the twentieth century, is deeply intertwined with the discovery, extraction and export of copper and with the import of fossil fuel.
In the first part, I introduce the concept of ‘colonial logistics’ intended as the modification and rationalisation of territories for military and political domination, and extraction and export of resources. In the second part of the article I show how, after independence, Zambia dealt with its complex geopolitical entanglement, partially inherited from colonial planning and partially generated by the end of direct forms of imperialism, which required the rerouting of its resources and the rebalancing of uneven territorial structures. The analysis of infrastructure development in postcolonial Zambia illustrates the competing strategies through which imperialist powers attempted to secure a new form of control on Africa and elucidates the role of logistics as a decisive tool to shape the African territory.
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