The introduction discusses the existing literature on colonial officials in Africa, and argues that, as a result of the relative paucity of such literature, there are four particularly pressing historiographical issues that require addressing if the attitudes underpinning the collective actions of the colonial state are to be understood. These are 1) the extent to which colonial officials acted in accordance with metropolitan attitudes to empire and imperial duty, 2) the role that selfishness and selflessness played in the act of imperial governance, 3) the degree to which officials envisaged their actions as taking place within supra- and intra-colonial collective networks of camaraderie and shared attitudes, and 4) the validity of postcolonialist arguments as to ambiguity and ambivalence at the heart of the imperial mission. The introduction also provides a brief summary of the arguments that are to follow in the remainder of the book.
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