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Colonial ports, customs and censorship: tracking books from ship to shore

By Isabel Hofmeyr, Professor of African Literature, University of the Witwatersrand
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Some years back, I wrote a book about Mahatma Gandhi’s work as a printer and publisher in South Africa, from 1893 to 1914. The man who was to become the great anti-colonial figure had arrived in Durban as a nervous young lawyer and had been rapidly drawn into defending Indian rights. Towards this end, he established a printing press and newspaper. One minor theme in the book was his steadfast opposition to copyright, which he thought hindered the free flow of ideas. Having completed the book, I wanted to investigate…

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