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Brownell, Josiah (2008) Rhodesia's War of Numbers: Racial Populations, Political Power, and the Collapse of the Settler State, 1960-1979. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis repositions racial population issues as central to an understanding of the final decades of settler rule in Rhodesia. At the time of the disintegration of the Central African Federation, the small and transient white population of Rhodesia rested precariously atop a massive and fast-growing African population; and with high rates of white emigration and the spectre of being handed over to African majority rule, the Rhodesian regime declared their illegal independence from Britain in 1965. As several factors ripened together in the 1970s, including white Rhodesians' heightened population anxieties, the economic strains of the white 'brain drain,' and the African population 'explosion,' the demographically fragile settler state was gradually stretched to the breaking point. It was in this context that the escalation of the guerrilla war added new pressures and exacerbated pre-existing demographic strains that forced Rhodesia's final collapse in 1979. Despite their important role in the collapse of the settler regime, population matters have not been sufficiently addressed, periodised, or properly contextualised in Rhodesian history. As little scholarship as there has been on the significance of population matters generally, there has been even less on the ubiquity of white population anxieties, how these pressures shaped white society, or on the efforts of both the settler state and African nationalists to engineer these demographics. These demographic strains have typically been cast as a by product of the military conflict, and efforts to re-configure population numbers as merely an adjunct to the shooting war. In contrast to the prevailing orthodoxies on the subject, this thesis argues that this demographic struggle long pre-dated the escalation of the war, and that it was the Rhodesian state's defeat in the demographic 'war of numbers,' and the consequences which flowed from this failure, that were directly responsible for the settler state's collapse.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:21

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