The politics of race and nation: Citizenship and Africanization in Tanganyika

Ronald Aminzade

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

24 Scopus citations


After experiencing decades of a tripartite colonial racial order that denied Africans political and civic rights, the newly independent nation of Tanganyika defined the rights and obligations of citizenship in terms of territory rather than race, rejecting rapid Africanization and exclusionary policies toward its minority Asian population. This rejection of racial nationality as a fundamental social category was an outcome of conflicts among nationalist elites over whether to use civic exclusion of the Asian minority to foster national unity among the black majority. Nationalist leaders imagined different communities of the nation. Some advocated inclusive citizenship and a nationalist vision based on color-blind policies while others appealed to popular racial animosities rooted in the inherited tripartite racial order and contended that race-blind policies would reinforce the dominance of an already privileged racial minority. Which of these visions triumphed and became institutionalized was a result of conflicts within and between nascent political parties. An event-centered analytical narrative of nation-building documents three causally linked sequences of events - the conflict within TANU over whether to participate in the racially-based election of 1958, the 1961 parliamentary controversy over whether to define citizenship in terms of race or residence, and the 1961-64 Africanization struggle over preferential treatment for black Africans. The outcomes of these conflicts produced the political forms in which national identities became institutionalized, including electoral rules, citizenship laws, and civil service recruitment policies. These outcomes were a result of the shifting balance of power within and between political parties. The analytic narrative pinpoints class, organizational, and international factors responsible for these shifts and identifies political party formation as a central determinant of the trajectory of nation building.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPolitical Power and Social Theory
PublisherJAI Press
Number of pages38
ISBN (Print)0762307633, 9780762307630
StatePublished - 2000

Publication series

NamePolitical Power and Social Theory
ISSN (Print)0198-8719

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The colonial policy of racial parity was supported by the United Tanganyika Party (UTP), which was formed with encouragement from the colonial administration and financed by European and Asian business interests. The UTP contended that its most important goal was "unity", understood as cooperation between non-Africans and Africans. 11 British officials joined UTP leaders in denouncing TANU as racist because it excluded Europeans and Asians from its membership. In his address to the Council of Chiefs in May 1957, Governor Edward Twining accused TANU of fostering racial prejudice and warned the chiefs that they were threatened by "those who base their appeal on the emotional attractions of extreme nationalism, which in effect is nothing but racialism" (Iliffe, 1979: 535).

Funding Information:
I am grateful for funding from the University of Minnesota, which made this research possible. This paper was prepared while I was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, with support provided by National Science Foundation Grant #SBR-9601236. I would like to thank Suleiman Ngware for helping me secure research clearance, Switbert Kamazima for locating and retrieving materials at the National Archives, Paul Manda for guiding me through the East Africana collection of the University of Dar es Salaam library, Simon and Marjorie Mbilinyi for their warm hospitality during my visits to Tanzania, and Kathleen Much for copy editing. 1 am especially grateful to Mary Jo Maynes, Doug McAdam, Charles Tilly, and Erik Olin Wright for their critical reading of several earlier drafts. James Brennan, Michael Burawoy, Peter Evans, Joe Feagin, Susan Geiger, Douglas Hartmann, Allen Isaacman, Barbara Laslett, John Meyer, Jennifer Pierce, Joel Samoff, Gay Seidman, Eric Sheppard, Sidney Tarrow, Edward Tiryakian, Kim Williams, Eric Weitz, members of the U.C.L.A. Comparative Social Analysis Workshop, and several anonymous reviewers generously provided insightful comments on earlier versions of this paper.


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