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Imperialists without an empire?

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Finnish Settlers in Late Nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Rhodesia

image of Journal of Migration History

This article discusses settler identity formation, in the colonial polity known as Rhodesia, using Finnish nationals as a case study. It studies the involvement of Finns in natural resource extraction in Rhodesia at a time when the colonial economy and settler domination were still in their infancy, and examines both Finnish participation in colonial practices and the limitations of Finns as colonialists. White settlers in Rhodesia have typically been categorised as ‘Europeans’ partly because of their sense of representing a generalised idea of Western civilisation and partly in order to underline contrasts between black and white experiences in the history of colonialism. By focusing on the more specific provenance of the settlers (their nationality and country of origin), it is possible to reveal idiosyncrasies through which we can appreciate settler identity formation more precisely. Finnish settlers, in their various capacities as prospectors, soldiers, hunters and planters, adapted ideas and identities that cannot easily be disentangled from those of colonisers.

Affiliations: 1: Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Jyvaskyla, Department of History and Ethnology, fi-40014 University of Jyvaskyla,


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