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Networks of DominationThe Social Foundations of Peripheral Conquest in International Politics$
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Paul MacDonald

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199362165

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199362165.001.0001

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“Drawing Lines upon Maps”

“Drawing Lines upon Maps”

Commerce and Conquest in the Niger Delta

(p.149) Chapter 5 “Drawing Lines upon Maps”
Networks of Domination

Paul K. Macdonald

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers British conquest in Nigeria in the late nineteenth century at the height of the “Scramble for Africa.” It highlights difficulties a conqueror faces when expanding into unfamiliar territory at the expense of societies and peoples it knows little about. Given the paucity of social ties the British possessed with local elites, they often found themselves dependent on unreliable intermediaries. They struggled to mobilize indigenous resources and to respond effectively to local challenges. Yet British efforts were nevertheless effective in part due to a high level of fragmentation both within and among Niger Delta states. Rivalries over control of trade routes and distribution of commercial revenue provided the British with unexpected opportunities to play local elites off one another and secure support for military operations. Despite being hamstrung by limited resources, inaccessible terrain, and inadequate intelligence, the British pushed forward the imperial frontier.

Keywords:   Nigeria, Niger Delta, conquest, Scramble for Africa

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