Policing the Boundaries: Intervention, Control, and the Colonial State

  • Camilla May Cockerton


The issue of control over women’s mobility, a long concern within Tswana society, came increasingly to the forefront in colonial thinking during the course of the twentieth century. In part this was a response to the entreaties of the Tswana chiefs, an appeal constructed on the discursive terrain of the “immoral woman.” As the twentieth century progressed, Tswana men and colonial officials increasingly discussed and debated the control and confinement of black women. There were points of congruence and tension in the alliance. With the penetration and consolidation of British colonialism in Bechuanaland, the locus of control over women had begun to shift from dikgosi, male elders, and husbands towards the more impersonal colonial state. African patriarchs clearly lost not only political and military power because of colonial conquest, but also patriarchal power over dependent females.


Policing Boundaries Intervention Control Colonial state “Immoral woman” Confinement Alliance Patriarchal power 

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Camilla May Cockerton
    • 1
  1. 1.Independent ResearcherWellingtonNew Zealand

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