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Locality, Mobility, and


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In this original interdisciplinary study of Togo and African colonial history, Benjamin Lawrance synthesizes political, gender, and social history by documenting the contributions of rural-dwelling populations in anti-colonial struggles. Anchoring his arguments on the premise that nationalist historiographies have overstated the role of urban and elite power while undervaluing the strategic place of rural constituencies, Lawrance uses the Ewe nationalist movement of southern Togo as a case study in what he terms "periurban colonialism" -- a historical paradigm that reunites the urban and rural experiences of post-World War I colonialism. By reconciling the marginal and non-elite communities and the social upheavals of the two World War periods, Lawrance offers a new perspective on the colonial experience and the anti-colonial struggle. In focusing on an African country uniquely colonized by the Germans, British, and French, he provides a wealth of information not readily available to the English-language audience. Accessible to scholars of African social history and African culture in general, Locality, Mobility, and "Nation" will occupy a distinguished place among studies of African colonial history and anti-colonial struggles.

Benjamin N. Lawrance is Assistant Professor of African History at the University of California, Davis, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate African and World History. He is the editor of The Ewe of Togo and Benin [2005] and the co-editor of Intermediaries, Interpreters and Clerks [2006].


The main strength . . . is the works' corrective to scholarship that over-emphasizes the uniformity and coherence of the colonial state at the expense of understanding how the actions of non-elite men and women shaped colonial practice and contributed to anti-colonial movements. JOURNAL OF COLONIALISM AND COLONIAL HISTORY [Hilary Jones]

This original, ambitious and well-illustrated book contains much of interest and value for both the specialist and non-specialist reader. It will surely form an indispensable point of reference for future studies of French colonialism, chieftaincy politics and periurban space in Africa. JOURNAL OF AFRICAN HISTORY [Kate Skinner]

Offers an intriguing Africanist contribution to the growing literature on nationalist movements in the French Empire. [A] solid and well-written study of one of the more neglected countries in West Africa. . . a welcome addition to graduate courses on nationalism and colonialism. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW [Jeremy Rich]

In this well-researched and thoroughly documented work, the author offers new perspectives on anticolonialism in terms of the integration of urban centers and the surrounding rural communities, which together constitute the "periurban" zones. African and colonial scholars alike will benefit from this groundbreaking work. THE HISTORIAN [Peter Buhler]

Complex and scholars in the fields of African history and comparative colonial histories plenty to think about. H-GERMAN [A] well researched and clearly written study that offers new insight into the development of nationalist politics in Eweland. The periurban focus brings chieftaincy politics, religion, and urban protest together with updated accounts of the Togo Bund and print media. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF AFRICAN HISTORICAL STUDIES [James Searing]

Benjamin Lawrance has written the first detailed history in English of Togoland under French rule. Its richness represents the fruits of exhaustive archival research and fieldwork interviews. Its originality lies in its demonstration of the ways in which European rule brought Ewe communities into a new physical and imaginative proximity, setting the scene for a fascinating exploration of the struggle over markets, taxes, and rights of political expression. --Paul Nugent, professor of comparative African History and Director of the Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh


First Published: 01 Oct 2007
13 Digit ISBN: 9781580462648
Pages: 304
Size: 9 x 6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: University of Rochester Press
BIC Class: GTB

Details updated on 06 May 2016


  • 1  Mobility, Locality, and Ewe Identity in Periurban Eweland
  • 2  Intervention and Dissent: Manufacturing the Model Periurban Chief
  • 3  Crisis in an Ewe "Capital": The Periurban Zone Descends on the City
  • 4  Vodou and Resistance: Politico-Religious Crises in the Periurban Landscape
  • 5  The German Togo-Bund and the Periurban Manifestations of "Nation"
  • 6  From Eweland to la République Togolaise: Le Guide du Togo and the Periurban Circulation of Knowledge