David M. Anderson

David M. Anderson is a historian at St. Anthony's College, University of Oxford. He is the author of Eroding the Commons, co-editor of Revealing Prophets, and The Poor Are Not Us.

Listed in: African Studies · Anthropology · Religion · Environmental Policy · History · Environmental History · African History

Dedan Kimathi on Trial · Colonial Justice and Popular Memory in Kenya’s Mau Mau Rebellion
Edited by Julie MacArthur · Introduction by Julie MacArthur · Foreword by Mĩcere Gĩthae Mũgo and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

Perhaps no figure embodied the ambiguities, colonial fears, and collective imaginations of Kenya’s decolonization era more than Dedan Kimathi, the self-proclaimed field marshal of the rebel forces that took to the forests to fight colonial rule in the 1950s. Kimathi personified many of the contradictions that the Mau Mau rebellion represented: rebel statesman, literate peasant, modern traditionalist.

“[This] publication accords Kenya and the world yet another moment of serious reflection and stock taking in revisiting one of Africa’s most compelling moments in the history of resistance against colonialist and imperialist injustice.”

From the foreword by Mĩcere Gĩthae Mũgo and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Eroding the Commons · The Politics of Ecology in Baringo, Kenya, 1890s–1963
By David M. Anderson

Colonial Baringo was largely unnoticed until drought and localized famine in the mid-1920s led to claims that its crisis was brought on by overcrowding and livestock mismanagement. In response to the alarm over erosion, the state embarked on a program for rehabilitation, conservation, and development.

"The Eroding Commons helps to fill a gap in Kalenjin history, especially that of the Tugen in the twentieth century, which has received little scholarly attention to date. It is an invaluable resource for graduate students and specialists with an interst in land tenure, development, pastoralism, or East African ethnic groups."

African Studies Review

The Poor Are Not Us · Poverty and Pastoralism in Eastern Africa
Edited by David M. Anderson and Vigdis Broch-Due

Eastern African pastoralists often present themselves as being egalitarian, equating cattle ownership with wealth. By this definition “the poor are not us”, poverty is confined to non-pastoralist, socially excluded persons and groups. Exploring this notion means discovering something about self-perceptions and community consciousness, how pastoralist identity has been made in opposition to other modes of production, how pastoralists want others to see them and how they see themselves.

“The contributors in The Poor are Not Us likewise succeed in their task of presenting a more holistic view of pastoral societies. They go beyond the widely held stereotypes that herders are conservative egalitarians and challenge the notion that pastoralism is a doomed means of subsistence. The scholarly articles demonstrate that one cannot understand wealth simply in economic terms, but must also take into account social and cultural variables. Aid agencies would do well to consider this holistic approach to pastoral poverty before embarking on potentially misguided development projects in a part of Africa that is in crisis today.”

George L. Simpson, Jr., High Point University

Revealing Prophets · Prophecy In Eastern African History
Edited by David M. Anderson and Douglas H. Johnson

This book examines the richly textured histories of prophets and prophecies within East Africa. It gives an analytical account of the significantly different forms prophecy has taken over the past century across the country. Each of the chapters takes a new look at the active dialogue between prophets and the communities whom they addressed.

“Innovative in their analytical use of oral data but traditional in their rigour. The original insight which perceived the need for a reassessment of the role is gloriously vindicated. One could build a really lively course, which raised theoretical and historiographical and interpretative problems.”

P. W. T. Baxter, formerly University of Manchester