Correspondence as a New Source for African History

Abstract

Recent developments in African studies have taken into account a new type of source<lb>and the emergence of a new phenomenon in 19th Century Africa such as the birth<lb>of a private epistolography. The author develops this theme in relation to Italian<lb>Eritrea. A conspicuous number of letters (the great majority in Amharic, Tegreñña<lb>is an exception) addressed from colonial “subjects” to Italian administration preserved<lb>in two different Archives, in Italy and Eritrea, testify to the use of correspondence<lb>as a new phenomenon in colonial Africa.<lb>The emergence of a private correspondence in Italian Eritrea reveals the political<lb>attitude of Eritreans towards colonial government, shows many aspects of daily life<lb>and offers biographical material that is very rare in available literature.<lb>The author discusses the importance of this unpublished and under-investigated<lb>documentation that testifies to the extreme variety and complexity of the human<lb>condition of colonised people.

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