Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Simon Davis

Committee Members

Timothy Alborn

Elena Frangakis-Syrett

Subject Categories

African History | European History | History | Islamic World and Near East History


The Mahdist revolt provides a quandary: why did Africans revolt against imperialism in defense of slavery? This study approaches the issue by analyzing the life of Zubayr Pasha, most well-known of Sudanese slave-traders in the decades leading to the Mahdist Revolt. What I found in interviews with him, parliamentary debates over him, articles about him, and proclamations concerning him, was that the emotional responses to his story show different perspectives on the processes of overlapping imperialisms, voluntary slavery, and a host of integrated issues. To himself he was a trader, a businessman working within the letter of the law; to others he symbolized either native brutality or realpolitik. The implications of this work are a new understanding of slavery and imperialism as more subtle and more related concepts than they are usually given credit for, making the Mahdist revolt less mysterious.



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