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The Rise of an African Middle Class: Colonial Zimbabwe 1898-1965
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The Rise of an African Middle Class: Colonial Zimbabwe 1898-1965 (Hardback)

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In this fine-grained history, Michael O. West focuses on how the unintended consequences of colonialism lead to the creation of an African middle class in Zimbabwe. Tracing Africans' quest for social recognition from the time of Cecil Rhodes to Rhodesia's unilateral declaration of independence, West shows how some Africans were able to avail themselves of scarce educational and social opportunities in order to achieve some degree of upward mobility in a society that was hostile to their ambitions. Though relatively few in numbers and not rich by colonial standards, this comparatively better class of Africans challenged individual and social barriers imposed by colonialism to become the locus of protest against European domination."The Rise of an African Middle Class" explores the origin, identity, and consciousness of the new 'elite' as well as their educational and residential patterns, political and social affiliations, and the community associations that provided structure and strength to their numbers.

Eventually becoming the political and social leaders of their country, West points to Zimbabwe's African middle class and their roles, interests, aspirations, and unity of purpose as a key factors in building the postcolonial democratic state. West's extensive and original book lends unique perspective to the complex relations between colonisers and colonised.

Michael O. West teaches in the Departments of Sociology and Africana Studies at Binghamton University. He is co-editor (with William G. Martin) of Out of One, Many Africas: Reconstructing the Study and Meaning of Africa. He has written widely on Zimbabwean and southern African history, and on the African diaspora.

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