aCknowledgments
: :
This book is, in part, about ways of thinking and the consequent ways of
being that follow from them. From the vantage point of the present, it
is about the histories left behind by such experiences. Writing this book
has also been an experience, and this book also has a history. I have bene-
fited from a range of teachers, friends, colleagues, and family members
who have taught me both how to think and how to be. While the word
acknowledgment does not quite capture the size of the debt I owe, or the
sense of humility I feel, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to thank
so many people.
This book took its earliest form as a doctoral dissertation at Stanford
University, where I had the good fortune to study with a number of ex-
cellent scholars, above all Richard Roberts, George M. Fredrickson, and
Richard White. At Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley, I
also profited from working with and receiving assistance from Christine
Capper- Sullivan, Lynn Eden, Karen Fung, Tabitha Kanogo, Sam Mchombo,
Donald Moore, Valentin Mudimbe, Gary Mukai, and Martha Saavedra. I
hold particular gratitude for Kennell Jackson, who initiated me into Stan-
ford life with lunches at Branner Hall and conversations about a diverse
range of topics. My greatest debt is to Richard Roberts—for his instruction,
for his persistent advocacy and generosity, and for his general guidance on
having a productive, meaningful career. Everything I know about African
social history—its range, its possibilities, and its importance—originates
with his teaching. While I conducted fieldwork, I received support from
various scholars in Malawi and South Africa. At Chancellor College, the
University of Malawi, Kings Phiri hosted my stays in Zomba on several
occasions. I thank him and Wiseman Chirwa for conversation and making
my visits possible. Rob Jamieson and his family also accommodated me in
Malawi, for which I am grateful. Staff members at the National Archives of
Malawi met all my research needs. At the University of Cape Town, I thank
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