Contested grounds: The transformation of the American Upper Ohio Valley and the South African Eastern Cape, 1770–1850
This dissertation examines the circumstances created by colonial encroachments in the American Upper Ohio Valley and the South African Eastern Cape. Beginning in the second half of the eighteenth and lasting well into the mid-nineteenth century, American Indians and Africans in the two areas faced increasing intrusions by people of European origin. Colonialism, the encounter between alien cultures, infringements on homelands, violence, dispossession, decimation, cultural invasion, removal, accommodation, revitalization, and survival led to rapidly changing worlds for local populations and white colonizers. My comparative study highlights the similarities and differences between historical developments in the two regions, with a particular focus on the creations of colonial racial orders in the United States and South Africa. Comparative history is a valuable method for examining phenomena of cross-cultural significance while subverting any notions about an area's historical uniqueness. It is an especially helpful approach in understanding the significant roles that the institutionalization of colonial expansion, racism and racial domination played in the United States and South Africa.
The Upper Ohio Valley and the Eastern Cape functioned in many ways as testing grounds for American and British expansion. Developments in each place contributed to the making of colonial racial systems in the larger United States and greater southern Africa. While the scenarios in the Upper Ohio Valley and the Eastern Cape did not repeat themselves identically in other locations, comparable patterns would emerge in later years as the United States expanded westward and Britain expanded into southern and eastern Africa.
In the late eighteenth and nineteenth century in the Upper Ohio Valley and the South African Cape, systems of racial exclusiveness became entrenched through increasingly close ties between settlers and the state. In both places, settlers, indigenous groups, missionaries and humanitarians attempted to influence the emerging colonial racial orders with varying success. Yet ultimately, it was the power of the state with its ability to defeat indigenous groups militarily, to dispossess and move, and to legislate, which shaped the two regions' colonial racial orders.
0337: American history
0331: African history
0328: Black history