This pioneering book was one of the first to place the history of East Africa within the context of the environment. It has been used continuously for student teaching. It is now reissued with an introduction placing it within the debate that has developed on the subject; there is also an updated bibliography.
The book puts people at the centre of events. It thus serves as a modification to nationalist history with its emphasis on leaders. It presents environmental factors that had been underestimated; for instance, it points to the critical importance of the rinderpest outbreak.
Helge Kjekshus provides evidence to suggest that the nineteenth century was a period of relative prosperity with well-developed trade. He questions the view that warfare was pervasive and that the slave trade led to depopulation. He points to a balance between man and the environment.
This book is reissued at the same time as the first publication of Custodians of the Land: Ecology and Culture in the History of Tanzania edited by Gregory Maddox, James I. Giblin and Isaria N. Kimambo. The footnotes in that book point to the importance of the work of Helge Kjekshus.
Helge Kjekshus taught Political Science at the University of Dar es Salaam. More info →
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Highland Sanctuary unravels the complex interactions among agriculture, herding, forestry, the colonial state, and the landscape itself. Conte’s study illuminates the debate over conservation, arguing that contingency and chance, the stuff of human history, have shaped forests in ways that rival the power of nature.
One of the first studies of the political ecology of a major African kingdom, Crisis and Decline in Bunyoro focuses on the interplay between levels of environmental activity within a highly stratified society.
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.