Barbed-Wire Imperialism: Britain's Empire of Camps, 1876-1903, by Aidan Forth - Review
Internment in the colonies served a darker purpose beyond aid efforts

Khalili, Laleh
Date Written:  2018-01-11
Publisher:  Times Higher Education
Year Published:  2018
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21997

A book review of Aidan Forth's "Barbed-Wire Imperialism: Britain's Empire of Camps, 1876-1903", which provides new insights and ulterior motives behind Britain's aid efforts in southern Africa.



Perhaps unsurprisingly, the famine and plague camps and later the war camps were structured by race, caste and class. In the camps of disease and famine, the poor and the lower castes had to work and received minimal support. During the Boer War, the camps concentrating blacks were far inferior to and had much higher mortality rates than the camps for white Boers.

Forth's account is a welcome corrective to those who see the empire's sanitation and hunger relief measures as humanitarian acts. The camps and quarantine measures established by the British were as much about controlling populations as countering hunger or contagion.

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