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Grant number: FT-60864-13

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David Gordon
Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME 04011-8447)

The Rise and Fall of Ngongo Lutete: A Congolese Warlord at the End of the Nineteenth Century

By focusing on transformations during the nineteenth century and their reverberations into the twentieth century, my research challenges the conventional compartmentalization of African history into pre-colonial and colonial periods. A key aspect of this project is the history of a late nineteenth-century warlord, Ngongo Lutete, and his followers. After gaining influence through alliances with east African traders, Lutete turned against his patrons and supported European conquest. However, following accusations of treason and brutality, colonial officers executed him. The example demonstrates how globalization prior to colonialism, even if violent, connected peoples and revolutionized politics. European colonialism here appears less imposed than negotiated with the polities that had emerged from the globalizing forces of the previous century. To gauge African perspectives on these changes, the project innovates in the analysis of vernacular narratives and art as historical evidence.

Project fields:
African History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2013 – 8/31/2013