Precolonial Economy and Society, c. 1850–1930

  • Ellen Hillbom
  • Jutta Bolt
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Economic History book series (PEHS)


The Tswana groups occupying present-day Botswana arrived in the mid-nineteenth century. In this chapter Hillbom and Bolt analyse their precolonial agro-pastoral production system of combining subsistence crop farming with amassment of cattle. The chapter starts with explaining how the settlement patterns and allocation of agricultural resources of the Tswana formed the basis for the development of a centralized state. Subsequently, the colonial administration’s focus on turning Bechuanaland into a labour reserve for the Southern African region and establishing a taxation system to secure government revenues is scrutinized. For this early colonial era the authors concur with the perception that Botswana experienced limited colonial influence and they identify the 1930s as the break with precolonial structures.


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Archive Material

  1. Annual Report of the Bechuanaland Protectorate. Issues 1903/1904, London School of Economics Library.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen Hillbom
    • 1
  • Jutta Bolt
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.University of LundLundSweden
  2. 2.Lund UniversityLundSweden
  3. 3.University of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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