The politics of race and nation: Citizenship and Africanization in Tanganyika

Political Power and Social Theory

ISBN: 978-0-76230-763-0, eISBN: 978-1-84950-095-1

ISSN: 0198-8719

Publication date: 22 March 2001


After experiencing decades of a tripartite colonial racial order that denied Africans political and civic rights, the newly independent nation of Tanganyika defined the rights and obligations of citizenship in terms of territory rather than race, rejecting rapid Africanization and exclusionary policies toward its minority Asian population. This rejection of racial nationality as a fundamental social category was an outcome of conflicts among nationalist elites over whether to use civic exclusion of the Asian minority to foster national unity among the black majority. Nationalist leaders imagined different communities of the nation. Some advocated inclusive citizenship and a nationalist vision based on color-blind policies while others appealed to popular racial animosities rooted in the inherited tripartite racial order and contended that race-blind policies would reinforce the dominance of an already privileged racial minority. Which of these visions triumphed and became institutionalized was a result of conflicts within and between nascent political parties. An event-centered analytical narrative of nation-building documents three causally linked sequences of events — the conflict within TANU over whether to participate in the racially-based election of 1958, the 1961 parliamentary controversy over whether to define citizenship in terms of race or residence, and the 1961–64 Africanization struggle over preferential treatment for black Africans. The outcomes of these conflicts produced the political forms in which national identities became institutionalized, including electoral rules, citizenship laws, and civil service recruitment policies. These outcomes were a result of the shifting balance of power within and between political parties. The analytic narrative pinpoints class, organizational, and international factors responsible for these shifts and identifies political party formation as a central determinant of the trajectory of nation building.


Aminzade, R. (2001), "The politics of race and nation: Citizenship and Africanization in Tanganyika", Davis, D. (Ed.) Political Power and Social Theory (Political Power and Social Theory, Vol. 14), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 53-90.

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