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The Collapse of Rhodesia: Population Demographics and the Politics of Race

The Collapse of Rhodesia: Population Demographics and the Politics of Race
Josiah Brownell

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In the years leading up to Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965, its small and transient white population was balanced precariously atop a large and fast-growing African population. This unstable political demography was set against the backdrop of continent-wide decolonisation and a parallel rise in African nationalism within Rhodesia. "The Collapse of Rhodesia" provides a controversial reexamination of the final decades of white minority rule. Josiah Brownell argues that racial population demographics and the pressures they produced were a pervasive, but hidden, force behind many of Rhodesia's most dramatic political events, including UDI. He concludes that the UDI rebellion eventually failed because the state was unable to successfully redress white Rhodesia's fundamental demographic weaknesses. By addressing this vital demographic component of the multifaceted conflict, this book is an important contribution to the historiography of the last years of white rule in Rhodesia.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction: The Hidden War of Numbers in Rhodesia

Chapter 2: The Rationalisation of Racial Populaton Imbalances: 'A Matter of Political Consequence'

Chapter 3: The African Population Explosion: 'The Greatest Problem'

Chapter 4: White Emigration: 'There's a Hole in the Bucket'

Chapter 5: Rhodesia's Immigration Policy: 'To Save Civilisation in this Country'

Chapter 6: African Agency in the War of Numbers: 'Nature is on our side'

Chapter 7: Conclusion

Author Info

Josiah Brownell received his Ph.D. from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London in 2009, and has a J.D. from the University Of Virginia School Of Law. His research focuses on African history, comparative settler colonialism, and the end of the British Empire.


This is a meticulously researched and eloquently expressed work, which makes its provocative argument very well. The author's primary contention is that demographics are a critical yet overlooked factor in the history of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) between 1960 and 1979. Josiah Brownell's argument is based in detailed empirical evidence, drawing together data from a range of sources that have not previously been considered in this way. He provides a welcome comparison with the fate of other white settler projects in Central and Southern Africa and detailed exploration of the centrality of population issues. This book is a welcome addition to the literature on general African history, contemporary Southern African history, as well as British decolonization and the end of empire in Southern Africa.
– Sue Onslow, co-Head of Africa International Affairs Programme, LSE IDEAS, The London School of Economics and Political Science

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: Tauris Academic Studies
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd
Series: International Library of African Studies

ISBN: 9781848854758
Publication Date: 30 Oct 2010
Number of Pages: 256
Height: 216
Width: 134
Illustrations: 10 bw integrated illustrations

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