Colonial Inscriptions: Race, Sex, and Class in Kenya


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In Kenyan colonialist imagery, the Kikuyu were vilified as deceitful servants while the Maasai were romanticized as noble savages in a fashion similar to American representation of the Black slave and the “wild” Indian. Carolyn Martin Shaw examines this imagery in the works of historians and ethnographers, as well as in novels and films.

Through the works of Louis Leakey, Jomo Kenyatta, Elspeth Huxley, and Isak Dinesen, along with her own ethnographic research, Martin Shaw investigates the discourses that shaped inequalities, rivalries, and fantasies in colonial Kenya. She explores narratives of domination and subordination, arguing that Europeans brought to Africa long-established ideas of difference that influenced racial inequalities in the colonial situation.