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Navigating Colonial Orders

Norwegian Entrepreneurship in Africa and Oceania

Edited by Kirsten Alsaker Kjerland and Bjørn Enge Bertelsen

414 pages, 36 illus., 2 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-539-4 $145.00/£107.00 / Hb / Published (November 2014)

eISBN 978-1-78238-540-0 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Buy the eBook from these vendorsRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


Navigating Colonial Orders provides a novel prism in which to examine the informal imperial influence of ‘noncolonial colonials’, both European and non-European, who thrived in foreign imperial systems. While the work resists the generalising ‘shade’ of globalisation, the contributions illuminate the global nature of expanding social, economic and political exchanges that shape contemporary core–periphery interaction. Norwegian entrepreneurs in Africa and the Pacific, utilising expertise in shipping, management, whaling and timber, flourished in an environment of rapid industrialisation and vast economic exploitation. Navigating Colonial Orders proves that Norwegians were ‘integral to and complicit in’ the feeding frenzy of European colonial expansion.” · Journal of Pacific History

“This collection is an extremely informative and valuable addition to the field of Scandinavian colonialism studies and colonial history of Africa and the South Pacific illustrating the multiform and complex nature of the colonial systems.” · Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History

“This fascinating and deeply engaging volume makes a unique contribution not only to the study of Norwegian political and economic history from 1850 to 1950 but also to the interdisciplinary field of Postcolonial Studies. Through original and ground-breaking research, the contributors question the perception that Norway’s active role in the world at large came into being only in the modern era as a promoter of world peace and human rights… A counter-intuitive scrutiny of such popular assumptions through rigorous research – as the contributors to this volume have done – is of tremendous relevance to broader critical interrogations of the overlapping concepts of Nordic norm entrepreneurship and Nordic exceptionalism.” · Scandinavian Journal of History

Navigating Colonial Orders is an extremely valuable record of geographically extensive and variously troubled and profitable Norwegian overseas adventures, enterprise and community from 1850 to 1950. Collated in a single, compelling collection, a series of painstakingly researched chapters by thirteen accomplished scholars examines Norwegian commerce, shipping, whaling, fishing, farming and forestry in Africa and the Pacific Islands….The presentations draw from an impressive range of primary archival material and secondary library material, and on the expertise of anthropologists, historians, a geographer and a political scientist.” · Gordon Pirie, University of Cape Town


Norwegians in colonial Africa and Oceania had varying aspirations and adapted in different ways to changing social, political and geographical circumstances in foreign, colonial settings. They included Norwegian shipowners, captains, and diplomats; traders and whalers along the African coast and in Antarctica; large-scale plantation owners in Mozambique and Hawai’i; big business men in South Africa; jacks of all trades in the Solomon Islands; timber merchants on Zanzibar’ coffee farmers in Kenya; and King Leopold’s footmen in Congo. This collection reveals narratives of the colonial era that are often ignored or obscured by the national histories of former colonial powers. It charts the entrepreneurial routes chosen by various Norwegians and the places they ventured, while demonstrating the importance of recognizing the complicity of such “non-colonial colonials” for understanding the complexity of colonial history.

Kirsten Alsaker Kjerland is a historian with UiB Global at the University of Bergen. Beginning in 1999, she was part of a team of historians writing a history of Norwegian development aid, published in three volumes in 2003. She initiated the research project “In the Wake of Colonialism” and is the author of Nordmenn i det koloniale Kenya (Spartacus, 2010) and co-editor, with Knut Mikjel Rio, of Kolonitid: Nordmenn på eventyr og big business i Afrika og Stillehavet (Scandinavian Academic Press, 2009).

Bjørn Enge Bertelsen is Associate Professor in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen. His articles have appeared in Journal of Southern African Studies, Social Analysis, Anthropology Today, and Urban Studies. He is the author of Violent Becomings: State Formation, Culture and Power in Mozambique (Berghahn Books, 2015, Open Access) and co-editor of Crisis of the State: War and Social Upheaval with Bruce Kapferer (Berghahn Books, 2009).

Subject: Colonial History
Area: AfricaAsia-Pacific


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