[VIRTUAL] Economic History Workshop - Laura Channing
THIS WORKSHOP WILL BE HELD VIRTUALLY VIA ZOOM
"Internal Inequalities: Taxpayers, Taxation and Expenditure in a Composite Colonial State, c. 1890-1937"
Laura Channing, University of Cambridge
There will be a pre-circulated paper for this workshop. To receive a copy of the pre-circulated paper and the Zoom meeting information, email Robert Yee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Despite its founding as a settlement of freed slaves, Sierra Leone has conventionally been categorised as a ‘peasant-export’ and ‘non-settler’ colony. While arguably no colony is truly represented by these abstract categories, Sierra Leone is particularly significant. A century of multi-ethnic settler self-government on the coast created a deeply different society to that which was annexed in 1896. By 1900 Sierra Leone consisted of three legally and demographically distinct regions, making its characterisation as a ‘peasant-export’ colony, ignoring complex internal inequalities and a black urban settler population, particularly problematic. This chapter uses sources on tax assessment, collection and expenditure to argue that these internal inequalities underpinned multiple experiences of being a colonial taxpayer. Pre-existing inequality between ‘protected peoples’ in the interior, subjects under local administrative boards in the Colony, and municipal citizens in Freetown, had an independent influence on both tax structure and expenditure. The ringfencing of settler tax revenue to specific areas, redistributive only at an internal level, bears some resemblance to the colonies of white settlement, although here in an urban, multi-ethnic environment. The differences of the incorporation of Freetown, the Colony and the Protectorate into the colonial state underpinned different categories and experiences of colonial fiscal subjecthood.