Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Andrew Port

Second Advisor

Aaron Retish


This thesis investigates the use of noncombatant-focused tactics by European colonial powers through the comparison of two specific instances of colonial conflict in southern Africa at the turn of the twentieth century: the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa and the series of conflicts commonly referred to as the Herero Wars in German Southwest Africa. It maintains that the propensity for meaningful shifts in the treatment of noncombatants depended greatly on the nature of the victims (i.e., whites of European descent, as opposed to native Africans) and the prevailing viewpoints on their roles in the respective colonial societies. Moreover, it argues that policy change was dictated mainly by differences in the presence, character, and effect of opposition in the public and political spheres and the structure of the administration within the colony carrying out the policy.