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Swedish Ventures in Cameroon, 1883-1923
Trade and Travel, People and Politics
The memoir of Knut Knudson
With supporting material, edited and with commentaries by Shirley Ardener
304 pages, 5 maps, 12 illus., bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-57181-725-9 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (August 2002)
ISBN 978-1-57181-311-4 $34.95/£27.95 Pb Published (August 2002)
eISBN 978-1-78238-871-5 eBook
“… a rich source of information on the detailed operation of a new colonial business venture and on a number of key events in the developments of the protectorate and the plantations. Accounts like this, which give details of the relationships between different groups of colonists and between colonists and Africans in nineteenth-century Cameroon, are rare and are great treasures.” • African Affairs
“Knutson's memoir is very well balanced out with the addition of extracts from the diaries of some of those he refers to, as well as of other contemporary commentators on that region.” • Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
“In publishing these two books [Swedish Ventures and Cameroon’s Tycoon] Berghahn have done West-Central African studies proud. The authors are highly regarded Cameroonists…The two volumes make an important contribution to the late pro-colonial and early colonial history of the Cameroons.” • The Australasian Review of African Studies
“…a fascinating account…[of considerable] ethnographic and historical value.” • Social Anthropology
“While the volume is best suited for specialists of Cameroon, its coverage of economics, gender, ethnography and racial stereotyping also recommends the book to anyone interested in the multiple dimensions of European-African encounters. It would make a splendid assigned reading for courses on European colonialism generally and German imperialist ventures in particular.” • H-Net
The 1880s were a critical time in Cameroon. A German warship arrived in the Douala estuary and proclaimed Cameroon a protectorate. At that time, two Swedes, Knutson and Waldau, were living on the upper slopes of the Cameroon Mountain. Very little is known about their activities. One, Knutson, wrote a long memoir of his time in Cameroon (1883-1895) which is published here for the first time. It gives fascinating insights into everyday life in Cameroon and into the multifaceted relationships among the various Europeans, and between them and the Africans, at the end of the 19th century; we learn about the Swedes' quarrels first with the Germans and later with the British, over land purchases, thus revealing the origins of long on-going disputes over Bakweri lands. We are given vivid descriptions of Bakweri notables and their, and the Europeans', cultural practices, a rare eye-witness account of the sasswood witchcraft ordeal, and learn about Knutson's friendships with slaves. Together with appended contemporary correspondence, legal opinions, and early (translated) texts, this memoir must be considered as a unique and invaluable primary source for the pre-colonial history of Cameroon.
Shirley Ardener teaches at the Center for Cross-Cultural Research on Women, University of Oxford, and is a member of the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research on Women, of which she was also the founding director.