Author Archives: Eric Allina

About Eric Allina

Associate professor of history at the University of Ottawa. His research focuses on labor and the state in colonial Africa, particularly in Mozambique. Published work includes articles in the Journal of Southern African Studies, the Journal of Social History, and History in Africa, as well as a book, Slavery by Any Other Name: African Life under Company Rule in Colonial Mozambique (Virginia, 2012). His ongoing research examines colonialism, labor, and slavery, and the history of socialist-era migration of Mozambican workers to East Germany.

“No Real Freedom for the Natives”: The Men in the Middle and Critiques of Colonial Labor in Central Mozambique

Allina examines how administrators in Mozambique engaged in the international debate over labor practices in colonial Africa. Although they worked within a regime of legalized forced labor, some expressed ambivalence over their position, criticizing both the principle and the practice of forced labor. These “men in the middle” held mindsets shaped both by awareness of the broader debate over what forms of labor were acceptable in “modern” empires and by interactions with the Africans over whom they ruled. Allina tracks the evolving debate around African labor rights from the 1920s to the 1940s, following discussions within the League of Nations, between Portuguese government departments, and across levels of administrative hierarchy within Mozambique.