‘Brave Men’ and ‘Pampered Children’: Male Bodies, Labour and Coming of Age in Belgian Congo

Onderzoeksoutput: Articlepeer review


This article sheds light on male identities in interwar Belgian Congo by using the colony’s largest palm oil concession as a case study. Based on colonial archives and oral testimonies, it shows how vernacular and colonial understandings of masculinity interplayed and keep on influencing ways to ‘be a man’ in the present. This article is divided into four parts. First, it highlights how vigorous male bodies supposedly constituted entry points in the colonial ‘civilizing mission’. Second, it addresses the convergences between coming-of-age rituals and of palm oil labour as markers of adulthood. Third, it nuances the association of dominant masculinity with brute force by showing how the ‘strongest’ palm oil workers were suspected to use witchcraft. Fourth, it addresses the apparent contradiction between recollection of
colonial labour as an experience of hardships and paternalist ‘pampering’.
Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)1-15
Aantal pagina's15
TijdschriftGender & History
Nummer van het tijdschrift15
Vroegere onlinedatum17 feb 2023
StatusPublished - 17 feb 2023

Bibliografische nota

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Copyright 2023 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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