Crime, Deviance and Punishment in British Colonial Africa, 1900-60: Context (HIH3153)

StaffDr Stacey Hynd - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level
Pre-requisitesAt least 90 credits of History at Level 1 and/or Level 2
Co-requisitesHIH3152 Crime, Deviance and Punishment in British Colonial Africa, 1900-60(Sources)
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module is intended to examine the social and political history of British colonial Africa between 1900-60 through an analysis of crime, deviance and punishment in the region. It explores how European understandings of crime and deviance among Africans shaped colonial governance, and how the law and punishment were central to colonialism. Crises of moral and political authority in colonial states will be examine through case studies of moral panics and crime waves. The changes and tensions in African societies in this period are investigated through their attitudes to the crimes that were committed and 'native customs' that were broken, and also through the evidence of their daily lives which is revealed through court records. The module will also cover historical theories of crime and punishment, from Durkheim to Foucault.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Ability to evaluate the different complex themes in the history of crime and punishment in colonial Africa
  • 2. Ability to make a close specialist evaluation of the key developments in criminal and social histories of Africa within the period, developed through independent study and seminar work
  • 3. Ability to evaluate the importance of law and criminal justice to colonial rule in Africa
  • 4. Ability to understand and evaluate various historical theories of crime, punishment and social deviancy

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Ability to analyse the key developments within a particular historical environment
  • 6. Ability to focus on and comprehend complex issues
  • 7. Ability to understand and deploy historical terminology in a comprehensible manner
  • 8. Ability to follow the complex reasoning inherent in the discourse of the period

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 9. Independent and autonomous study and group work, including presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning
  • 10. Ability to digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment
  • 11. Ability to present complex arguments orally

Syllabus plan

Seminars will cover the following topics: murder, violent and sexual crimes, prostitution, domestic violence, property crime, witchcraft, treason, sedition, juvenile delinquency and alcohol or drug related offences. They will also looks at various forms of punishment: fines, flogging, imprisonment and capital punishment. Many of these topics will be explored through case studies, such as the 'Black Peril' scares in Southern Africa, witchcraft in Kenya, the Aba Women's War in Nigeria, and medicine murders in Botswana.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities44Seminars (22x2hr)
Guided independent study256Reading and preparation for seminars and presentations

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Better of two essay marks332 x 3000 wordsVerbal and written
Unseen examination672 questions in 2 hoursWritten

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

F. Bernault (ed.), A History of Prison and Confinement (Portsmouth, 2003)
M. Chanock, Law, Custom and Social Order: The Colonial Experience in Malawi and Zambia (Cambridge, 1985)
D. Garland, Punishment and Modern Society: A Study in Social Theory (Oxford, 1991)
M. J. Hay & M. Wright (eds.), African Women and the Law: Historical Perspectives (Boston, 1982)
K. Mann & R. Roberts (eds.), Law in Colonial Africa (London, 1991)
C. Murray & P. Sanders, Medicine Murder in Colonial Lesotho: An Anatomy of a Moral Crisis (Edinburgh, 2005)
S. Pierce & A. Rao (eds.), Discipline and the Other Body: Correction, Corporeality and Colonial Rule (Duke, 2006)
D. Pratten, The Leopard Man Murders: History and Society in Colonial Nigeria (Edinburgh, 2007)
L. White, The Comforts of Home: Prostitution in Colonial Nairobi (Chicago, 1990)
J. Willis, Potent Brews: A Social History of Alcohol in East Africa, 1850-1999 (Oxford, 2002)

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