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

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date






Publication Title

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


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.


For more information on the published version, visit Palgrave Macmillan's Website.

Full text currently unavailable.