shopping_cart

African Womanhood in Colonial Kenya, 1900–1950

By Tabitha Kanogo

“This is the most interesting general Kenyan social history that I have had the pleasure to read for many years. It fills a large gap in the colonial history of Kenyan women as they negotiated changes in the most domestic areas of their experience. Within a broad analysis of colonial opportunities for physical, social and educational mobility, Kanogo shows how African and British male authorities tried, with uncertain opinions and from different perspectives, to control female initiatives, and how, to varying degrees, women managed to achieve increasing measures of control over their own lives.”

John Lonsdale, Trinity College, Cambridge

“A superb study of how, across the colonial period, the range of indigenous, government, and mission authorities...struggled to control and redefine the cultural and institutional practices that regulated women's lives.”

The Historian

This book explores the history of African womanhood in colonial Kenya. By focussing on key sociocultural institutions and practices around which the lives of women were organized, and on the protracted debates that surrounded these institutions and practices during the colonial period, it investigates the nature of indigenous, mission, and colonial control of African women.

The pertinent institutions and practices include the legal and cultural status of women, clitoridectomy, dowry, marriage, maternity and motherhood, and formal education. By following the effects of the all-pervasive ideological shifts that colonialism produced in the lives of women, the study investigates the diverse ways in which a woman’s personhood was enhanced, diminished, or placed in ambiguous predicaments by the consequences, intended and unintended, of colonial rule as administered by both the colonizers and the colonized. The study thus tries to historicize the reworkings of women’s lives under colonial rule. The transformations that resulted from these reworkings involved the negotiation and redefinition of the meaning of individual liberties and of women’s agency, along with the reconceptualization of kinship relations and of community.

These changes resulted in—and often resulted from—increased mobility for Kenyan women, who were enabled to cross physical, cultural, economic, social, and psychological frontiers that had been closed to them prior to colonial rule. The conclusion to which the experiences of women in colonial Kenya points again and again is that for these women, the exercise of individual agency, whether it was newly acquired or repeatedly thwarted, depended in large measure on the unleashing of forces over which no one involved had control. Over and over, women found opportunities to act amid the conflicting policies, unintended consequences, and inconsistent compromises that characterized colonial rule.

Tabitha Kanogo is an associate professor of history at the University of California at Berkeley.

Order a print copy

Paperback · $23.96 ·
Add to Cart

Retail price: $29.95 · Save 20% ($23.96)

Hardcover · $39.96 ·
Add to Cart

Retail price: $49.95 · Save 20% ($39.96)

Buy from a local bookstore

IndieBound

US and Canada only

Cover of African Womanhood in Colonial Kenya, 1900–1950

Share    Facebook icon  Email icon

Requests

Desk Copy Examination Copy Review Copy

Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center

Formats

Paperback
978-0-8214-1568-9
Retail price: $29.95, S.
Release date: January 2000
288 pages · 5¼ × 8½ in.
Rights: World (exclusive in Americas, and Philippines) except British Commonwealth, Continental Europe, and United Kingdom

Hardcover
978-0-8214-1567-2
Retail price: $49.95, S.
Release date: January 2000
288 pages · 5¼ × 8½ in.
Rights: World (exclusive in Americas, and Philippines) except British Commonwealth, Continental Europe, and United Kingdom

Related Titles

Cover of 'Decolonization and Independence in Kenya, 1940–1993'

Decolonization and Independence in Kenya, 1940–1993
Edited by B. A. Ogot and W. R. Ochieng

This is a sharply observed assessment of the history of the last half century by a distinguished group of historians of Kenya. At the same time the book is a courageous reflection in the dilemmas of African nationhood. Professor B. A. Ogot says: “The main purpose of the book is to show that decolonization does not only mean the transfer of alien power to sovereign nationhood; it must also entail the liberation of the worlds of spirit and culture, as well as economics and politics.

African History · Colonialism and Decolonization · African Studies · Kenya · Eastern Africa

Cover of 'Control and Crisis in Colonial Kenya'

Control and Crisis in Colonial Kenya
The Dialectic of Domination
By Bruce Berman

This history of the political economy of Kenya is the first full length study of the development of the colonial state in Africa. Professor Berman argues that the colonial state was shaped by the contradictions between maintaining effective political control with limited coercive force and ensuring the profitable articulation of metropolitan and settler capitalism with African societies.

African Studies · African History · History · Mau Mau · Kenya · Eastern Africa · Africa

Cover of 'Empire State-Building'

Empire State-Building
War and Welfare in Kenya, 1925–1952
By Joanna Lewis

This history of administrative thought and practice in colonial Kenya looks at the ways in which white people tried to engineer social change. It asks four questions: - Why was Kenya's welfare operation so idiosyncratic and spartan compared with that of other British colonies? - Why did a transformation from social welfare to community development produce further neglect of the very poor? - Why was there no equivalent to the French tradition of community medicine?

African Studies · 20th century · Violence in Society · Africa · Eastern Africa · Kenya · History · African History · Sociology · Military History