Summary: Portuguese officials forced nearly a million African peasants to grow cotton in colonial Mozambique under a regime of coercion, brutality, and terror. The colonial state sought to control almost every aspect of peasant life: growers were told not only what they should produce, but where they should live, how they should organize their labor, and with whom they should trade. A privileged few managed to prosper under the cotton regime, but the great majority were impov ...show moreerished, as cotton cultivation earned them next to nothing and exposed them to hardship and famine.
Despite their efforts at control, the colonial state could only partially subordinate the rural population. This book explores the lives of Mozambique's cotton producers--their pain and suffering, their coping strategies, and their struggles to survive. Because the study is concerned above all else with the lived experiences of cotton growers, their stories figure prominently; the documentation for this book includes more than 160 interviews- with former cotton growers and their families, but also with African police and overseers, and with Portuguese settlers, merchants, missionaries, and officials. The producers' own stories, while acknowledging their bleak situation, provide evidence of agency, proactive struggle, and creative adaptation under difficult circumstances. ...show less