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Marking Territory: demarcation of the DRC-Zambia boundary from 1894 to the present day

By WADE JOHN DONALDSON

Abstract

From 1911 to 1914 an Anglo-Belgian boundary commission demarcated some 800 km of the boundary between the Congo Free State and Northern Rhodesia with 46 boundary markers. As was common practice across most British colonial boundaries in Africa prior to 1914, the process of demarcation was an exercise focused more on mapping and exploration than on clearly defining boundaries at the local scale. The division of territorial sovereignty through boundaries was known only at a small geographic scale. However, in 1927 a second Anglo-Belgian boundary commission was sent to demarcate what was by that time the Belgian Congo-Northern Rhodesia boundary. Working for six years at a cost that exceeded preceding boundary commissions throughout colonial Africa, the 1927-33 boundary commission erected boundary marks every 500 metres and literally carved the boundary line onto the local landscape.\ud This research is framed by a ‘traditional’ understanding of a boundary as a fixed, bilateral and linear entity, taking an approach from international law. It is shown how boundaries developed as an essential component of the modern state territorial sovereignty that was imposed on the African continent through European imperialism. In making a boundary ‘known,’ demarcation is then isolated as a distinct process and recovered as a narrative in the study of the DRC-Zambia boundary from the colonial through the post-independence periods. Examining the disparity in demarcation methodology within in this narrative provides a unique lens through which to examine the relationship between state and territory throughout this narrative. It will be shown how economic aspects of land continue to affect demarcation methodology, reflecting some of the very foundational tenets of territorial sovereignty.\u

Topics: boundary, demarcation, Africa, territory, Zambia, boundary commissions
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.dur.ac.uk:328
Provided by: Durham e-Theses

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