The Testing Grounds of Modern Empire examines the transformation and the gradual creation of colonial racial order on an American and a South African frontier, respectively. This study focuses on the Ohio Country (a region including parts of present-day western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan) and the South African Eastern Cape (a region located on the southeastern tip of the African continent) in the late eighteenth and the nineteenth century. This book compares and juxtaposes the processes of indigenous dispossession and white efforts at undermining Native American and African sovereignty. While the scenarios in the Ohio Country and the Eastern Cape did not repeat themselves identically in other locations, comparable patterns would emerge in later years as the United States expanded westward and Britain expanded into southern and eastern Africa.
Christoph Strobel explores how various white and indigenous people tried to shape the creation of colonial racial order in the two regions. An emerging compromise among white settlers, government officials, and other white interest groups gradually led to the implementation of systems of colonial racial order in both the Ohio Country and the Eastern Cape by the mid-nineteenth century. This transformation, shaped by violence, conflict, and cooperation, left a legacy that influenced the development of colonization and the contested construction and representation of race in the United States, southern Africa, and around the world.