red lion cover

Colony, crime and chronicle: an interview with Charles van Onselen

By Peter Vale, Director, Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study
Thesis Eleven, 2016, Vol. 136(1) 35–48

In this interview, published in the academic journal Thesis Eleven, the renowned historian Charles van Onselen discusses his recent book, Showdown at the Red Lion: The Life and Times of Jack McLoughlin, 1959–1910 (Jonathan Ball, 2015) against the backdrop of his previous work. He explores social formation and the consolidation of state power in southern Africa through the empirical optic of social banditry and the role of individual outliers. The theoretical framing is drawn from historical sociology. The role of political authority across the Indian Ocean, particularly in Australia, is also considered, as is the rise of technology, the role of the Irish and the place of masculinity in the project of Empire building. The exchange also touches briefly on civil-military relations in contemporary Africa and on interdisciplinarity in graduate studies. Download the interview here.