Crime, Race, and Punishment in Angola, 1850s-1880s

Grants to Support Faculty Fellows' Research
Grant Year

This is an exploratory project on the history of crime in Angola during the second half of the nineteenth century, examining the links between colonialism, racism, gender, and punishment. Central to this project is the interrogation of criminality categories, as well as resistance to exclusion and subjugation associated with land grabbing, racial segregation, and colonialism. Thanks to the KI support, I have been working on the past three years in the identification of the more than 2,000 court cases available at the
Tribunal da Comarca de Benguela. After the identification of 367 criminal cases before the 1890s, my goal is to return to Benguela this summer and digitize these cases. Most of the documents deal with crimes ranging from illegal enslaving, contraband, murder, and contempt of authority. A better understanding about criminality categories, punishment, and colonialism and its intersections with race and gender fits into KI commitment to promote human rights. A historical study on punishment in Angola historicizes law and its application during early colonial experiences in the African continent. This project provides tools to deconstruct narratives that crime, corruption, and social and economic inequalities are intrinsic to African societies. Exchanges and interactions with scholars based in Angola foster human development and dialogue with the Global South.