The Penal Origins of Colonial Model Villages: From Aborted Concentration Camps to Forced Resettlement in Angola (1930–1969)

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Abstract

In 1962, one year after the outbreak of the colonial war in Angola, the Portuguese military forces devised and tried to establish a concentration camp in the northern district of Zaire. This attempt failed to gather sufficient support among metropolitan civil servants, who preferred seemingly softer techniques of population control, such as village-building and resettlement plans. The case represents the first ever documented evidence of a relation between penal concentration and rural development policies in Portuguese Africa. There are competing accounts today on the structural origins and conjunctural aims of the Portuguese policy of population removal, regrouping and surveillance in Angola, mainly because resettlement plans and concentration camps became analytically ambiguous during the last fifteen years of the Portuguese colonial rule. This paper explores this ambiguity by showing that resettlement techniques were linked to penal reforms of the early 1950s. By studying the initial and subsequent plans of rural reordering proposed for the region of Zaire and by following the history of the first native prison experiment of aldeamento (in the penal colony of Damba of Malanje), I argue that counter-insurgency village-building in Angola corresponded to a form of ‘developmental repression’. © 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-371
Number of pages28
JournalJournal Of Imperial And Commonwealth History
Volume47
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

Keywords

  • Resettlement
  • Concentration camp
  • Penal colony
  • Villagisation
  • Angola

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