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Abolitionist Rhetorics, Colonial Conquest, And The Slow Death Of Slavery In Germany's African Empire

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Chapter Summary

In the 19th century, European statesmen and capitalists rhetorically legitimized their new imperialist ventures in Africa by referring to their 'civilizing' commitment to abolish indigenous forms of slavery. The newly emerging patterns of unfree labor became important to the production of agricultural commodities and raw materials in colonial Africa – and to a new global political economy. An important example of the rise of new forms of coerced labor was the Belgian Congo. The use of coercion, in fact, is best understood as a result of the crisis of wage labor on the African continent during the interwar years. In 1908, the Congo Free State ceased to be King Leopold II's private property and officially became a Belgian colony. The new institutional beginning in 1908 encouraged the Belgian colonial administration to assist actively in the development of the colonial economy.

Keywords:African continent; Belgian Congo; coerced labor; colonial administration; unfree labor



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