From the land of ‘milk and honey’ to ‘permanent famine’: a socio-political history of Western Zambia 1940-1972

Painting: The Witchcraft Clean-up. © Jan-Bart Gewald (ASC Leiden)Max Gluckman, the founding father of the Manchester School of Cultural Anthropology, returned to Barotseland in 1965. The Barotse Plain that he had described in 1940 as the ‘land of milk and honey’ had become a land of ‘permanent famine’ by 1965. What happened in Barotseland in those twenty-five years and how a land of plenty became a land of permanent famine will be at the heart of this research project.

Barotseland was subsumed into the newly independent state of Zambia in 1964. Nationalist histories and post-colonial historiography have consistently delegitimized the aims and aspirations of minorities and regional groupings in the interest of the newly emerging nation state of Zambia. This project aims to reclaim this suppressed and hidden history, move beyond the teleological view of Zambia’s nationalist history and explore the socio-political developments and aspirations of the people in western Zambia between 1940 and 1972.

About this project

Project type: 
Research project
2012 to 2016


External affiliates

Iva Pesa
Mary Davies
Enid Guene


regional atonomy; secessionism; nationalism