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Mr Mads Bomholt Nielsen

Education/Academic qualification

  • Master of Arts, King's College London

  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Copenhagen


Professional Qualifications

  • Associateship of King’s College London , AKC


Biographical details

Thesis title: ‘As Bad as the Congo’? – British Perceptions of Colonial Rule and Violence in Anglo-German Southern Africa, 1896-1918

This thesis examines British perceptions of Anglo-German colonialism in Southern Africa before and after the First World War. During the peace negotiations at Versailles, the British Foreign Office published the so-called Blue Book which exposed Germany’s colonial administration in German Southwest Africa as a case of colonial maladministration. This was a move to allow Britain and her allies to confiscate German colonies all over the globe as Germany was deemed unfit as a coloniser. The German delegation responded by publishing a report which claimed that Britain too had committed similar atrocities in its colonies – particularly in Rhodesia in 1896 where the Ndebele had been relentlessly slaughtered by British troops.

            This thesis will therefore juxtapose the views presented at Versailles to how British officials in Whitehall perceived and responded to these same incidents of colonial scandals in a contemporary setting. At the crux of this approach is therefore what factors that may have shaped such perceptions and prompted the decision to take action (or inaction). The thesis will therefore analyse the place of racist convictions and humanitarian ideologies in the construction of these perceptions.

            It will be argued, that before the First World War, British officials were reluctant to allow any reports of maladministration to cause scandal and public upheaval, whether in British or non-British territory. Instead they were adamant in maintaining stability both in Europe and the colonies by upholding a colonial omerta, where the atrocities of colonial rule were well known, but subdued. British officials’ views on both cases therefore, were interlocked between strategic interests and political, both originating in racial convictions of colonial rule and humanitarian sentiments towards the colonised. Particularly humanitarianism could cause havoc, but could also be harnessed by the British government to attain strategic and expansionist interests in both Rhodesia and GSWA as it could exhibit specific actors, either the BSAC or Germany, as unacceptable colonisers, paving the way for British and South African influence to expand. 

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