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Colonial Inscriptions

Colonial Inscriptions: Race, Sex, and Class in Kenya

Carolyn Martin Shaw
Copyright Date: 1995
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Colonial Inscriptions
    Book Description:

    Explores how images of African colonialism have been influenced by European and American racism and sexual fantasies.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8617-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. 1 Introduction: Social Theory and Colonialism
    (pp. 1-27)

    The colonial period was a brief, violent, constitutive moment in the history of Kenya, ending in 1963; it lasted about sixty years.¹ People, ideas, and practices forced together in colonial Kenya gave rise to discourses that shape inequalities, rivalries, adventures, and fantasies to this day in Kenya. The social imagery that Kenyan colonialists used to represent the native other, to construct narratives of domination and subordination, can best be understood as emanating from social processes taking place in the borderland between European and African knowledge and experience. This borderland is a space ofinterculturality,of overlapping “part” societies and local...

  5. 2 The Production of Women: Kikuyu Gender and Politics at the Beginning of the Colonial Era
    (pp. 28-59)

    A discourse of male dominance competed with a discourse of female power among the Kikuyu represented in colonial ethnographies. Although Kikuyu men and women jointly participated in some activities, and certain positions could be held by either men or women, Kikuyu conceived of their system as one in which women were excluded from political decision making. Colonial writers captured this ideology of male dominance in their reports and analyses of Kikuyu social and political structure, and they recorded many folktales and proverbs that repeat the same theme. I am interested in showing here, however, that a central ideology, even one...

  6. 3 Kikuyu Women and Sexuality
    (pp. 60-94)

    In his representation of Kikuyu women, Leakey, to paraphrase James Clifford (1986: 98), describes real cultural phenomena—the statuses, roles, powers, and autonomy of women’s lives—and makes additional moral judgments regarding their goodness and rightness. The implicit questions or allegories that directed the representation of women in the ethnography led to a broad inclusion of women, yet did not allow women to be seen outside this particular frame of questions or moral concerns, but at the same time did challenge Western prejudices. Leakey does not present the individual voice of a woman negotiating her various roles and statuses, experimenting...

  7. 4 Louis Leakey and the Kikuyu
    (pp. 95-117)

    In 1947 Louis and Mary Leakey went to Angola to study deposits for a diamond mining company to determine whether certain quantities and configurations of artifacts could consistently be found in association with diamond deposits. To this trip Leakey devotes one chapter in the last installment of his memoirs,By the Evidence, 1932-1951. His recollection of an evening with an anthropologist there shows the prominence given to his consideration of traditional African customs and his uneasy relationship with established academic and colonial conventions. I have tried to keep Leakey’s tone in the following summary of that evening.

    At a dinner...

  8. 5 The Ethnographic Past: Jomo Kenyatta and Friends
    (pp. 118-148)

    Jomo Kenyatta and Louis Leakey were on the same side in the debate over the nature of precolonial Kikuyu social life—egalitarian or structured inequalities?—though they squared off against each other when the Kikuyu-based Mau Mau moved against colonialists and the colonial power structure. Their ethnographies emphasize egalitarianism among Kikuyu men and portray precolonial Kikuyu society as based on incontestable moral precepts and the rule of law. Here I would like to investigate the representation of the Kikuyu in both their works, setting them off against recent historical works on precolonial Kikuyu society, turning finally to Mau Mau itself...

  9. 6 Mau Mau Discourses
    (pp. 149-178)

    Mau Mau existed at an imagined border between white civilization and black savagery, a cultural intersection. This borderland is a space of interculturality where local traditions and innovations, metropolitan laws and practices, and international economics and politics converged. In Kenya, the Mau Mau movement emerged among Africans most substantially subject to colonial domination, those most intricately affected by the colonial enterprise. The person the colonial government convicted of masterminding Mau Mau, Jomo Kenyatta, was mission- and metropolitan-educated and was believed by many to have used Kikuyu tradition and European occult knowledge as well as communist connections to move his people...

  10. 7 Race, Class, Empire, and Sexuality
    (pp. 179-218)

    Popular discourse on Mau Mau as bloody savage was short-lived though deep-seated; it was succeeded in popular imagination in Kenya by representations of the Kikuyu as aggressive merchants and avaricious government bureaucrats, a present-day image many Kikuyu themselves accept. The father in the family I lived with in the early 1970s contrasted the Kikuyu with the Luo, who had become their enemies when they were employed by the colonialists against the Kikuyu during Mau Mau. “The Luo,” he said, “are good at school; they go to university. The Kikuyu do business; we make money.” In this chapter, I explore images...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 219-224)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 225-242)
  13. Index
    (pp. 243-250)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 251-251)