Book launch: Roads through Mwinilunga - Writing Histories of Social Change in Southern and Central Africa

Presentation by Iva Peša, followed by a panel discussion with Francesca Pugliese, Tycho van der Hoog and Klaas van Walraven.

Roads through Mwinilunga (Brill, 2019) historicises processes of social change in Northwest Zambia from 1750 until the present. Through a focus on agricultural production, mobility, consumption and settlement patterns, the book reassesses existing explanations of social change in Central Africa. For example, rather than taking a transition from ‘subsistence’ to ‘market’ production of maize in Mwinilunga District at face value, it is necessary to understand the agricultural foundations of production, which pivoted around hunting and cassava cultivation. Similarly, historical analysis can nuance Victor Turner’s predictions from the 1950s about village fission and disintegration due to capitalism and labour migration, as kinship and village life have retained their importance at present.

This seminar will start with a short presentation of the book by Iva Peša. After this, there will be a panel discussion on how to write histories of social change in Southern and Central Africa. Francesca Pugliese, Tycho van der Hoog and Klaas van Walraven will discuss how to write histories of everyday life, the challenges of using oral history and they will reflect on the limitations of ‘modernist narratives’ of African historiography. 

The book Roads through Mwinilunga will be available during the seminar (€ 49,-, cash only).

Iva Peša is Assistant Professor in Contemporary History at the University of Groningen. She wrote her PhD (2014) on the social history of Mwinilunga District in Northwest Zambia at Leiden University. Based on 18 months of fieldwork in Zambia, this thesis made extensive use of archival sources and oral history. From 2017-2019 she was a Research Associate in Environmental History at the University of Oxford, where she adopted a socio-environmental approach to study the Zambian and Congolese Copperbelt.

Date, time and location

22 October 2019
15.30 - 17.00
Pieter de la Court building / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room 5.A47