Title

"Little Storybook Town": Space and Labor in a Company Town in Colonial Angola

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date

2012

Department

History

Language

English

Publication Title

Company Towns: Labor, Space, and Power Relations Across Time and Continents

Abstract

Urban colonization in Angola grew out of the Berlin Conference (1884-5) and the expectation that colonizing powers demonstrate effective occupation in order to receive international -- European -- recognition for their territorial claims. In response, Portuguese elites rediscovered their long-neglected coastal settlements along the Angolan and Mozambican littorals and began to make substantial investments in infrastructure, including railways, ports, and administrative and military buildings. On Angola's south-central coast, the frontier town of Catumbela, long known as an embarkation point for slaves headed to the New World, developed as a result of a boom in rubber exports. Portuguese and Luso-African traders established trading houses and rebuilt the small town to reflect a Portuguese aesthetic. With the decline in world rubber prices by 1910 and the exhaustion of elephant herds in the Angolan interior, the local trading economy declined while a new sugar industry developed on the plains surrounding Catumbela, based on irrigation from the Catumbela River and favorable tariff access to the Portuguese market.

Comments

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