Richards’s purported sexual indiscretion, and
the gossip and scandal that circulated about it, reveal about the
power structures of the society within which it occurred? At its
core, the case revolves around an individual’s transgressions,
if not overtly sexual, then certainly overstepping the carefully
prescribed bounds of intimacy and appropriate courtship behaviours.
Kenya Colony, for the British at least, has customarily been imagined as a place of wealthy settler-farmers, sun-lit panoramas and the adventure of safari. Yet for the majority of Europeans who went there life was very different. This book offers an unprecedented new account of what was – supposedly – the most picturesque of Britain’s colonies overseas. While Kenya’s romantic reputation has served to perpetuate the notion that Europeans enjoyed untroubled command, what the lives of Kenya’s white insane powerfully describe are stories of conflict, immiseration, estrangement and despair. Crucially, Europeans who became impoverished in Kenya or who transgressed the boundary lines separating colonizer from colonized subverted the myth that Europeans enjoyed a natural right to rule. Because a deviation from the settler ideal was politically problematic, therefore, Europeans who failed to conform to the collective self-image were customarily absented, from the colony itself in the first instance and latterly from both popular and scholarly historical accounts. Bringing into view the lives of Kenya’s white insane makes for an imaginative and intellectual engagement with realms of human history that, so colonial ideologies would have us believe, simply were not there. Tracing the pathways that led an individual to the hospital gates, meanwhile, shows up the complex interplay between madness and marginality in a society for which deviance was never intended to be managed but comprehensively denied.
sources: as long as sex
was troublesome or taboo it most often took place in secret and
guardians of colonial morality no less than those who undermined it had
much to gain from keeping scandal covered up. In this regard, the dual
endeavour – to prevent and to conceal transgressive sexual unions
- operated in sync, to deny disruptions to the colonial order of things
in appearance if not in actual fact. 10
the British people a colonising race.
Simply for Europeans to have left Europe was transgression of a sort.
While the symbolic significance of the enervated European was particular
to the colonial domain, moreover, it formed nevertheless part of a wider
imperial strain of doubt as teleological visions of progress were
juxtaposed with nightmare scenarios of subversion and collapse. The
of a mortal or
existential threat. Fear of ‘native’ insurrection was echoed
by fear of white transgression. While the delusions of many of the
Europeans admitted to Mathari took ideas around savage Africa to their
(il)logical extreme, others turned these discourses back in on
themselves. In this regard it can hardly be without significance that
while sensitivity to African danger was deemed necessary
alcohol by lower-class whites stirred British colonial anxieties; across the empire more broadly the visibility of drunk whites was seen as endangering British identification as the ruling superior race. 49 These categories existed in dialectical tension: poor whiteism was both a cause and a consequence of a range of transgressive behaviours and attitudes. Criminality, alcoholism, miscegenation and familial breakdown were interrelated phenomena of moral decline. 50
Daphne Anderson, a self-described ‘poor white’, gives some insight into these dynamics. She observed
, mothers, daughters and divorcees, white women were central to white communities and social reproduction. Their status and idealisation as mothers of the race and nation relied upon their acquiescence; upon their acting in ways that reaffirmed existing gender norms. Anxieties and panics emerged when these norms were threatened or transgressed and reflected broader attempts to enforce particular racial and gender hierarchies and, from the 1970s onwards, growing pessimism over the future of white male power.
This book has sought to provide some historical antecedents for
Also, Beck's and Grande's concept of empire presupposes a practice of ‘strategically binding others’, exercised by institutions that did not exist on the Antillean islands.
There are, however, alternative functions of a cosmopolity in empire that transgress the conceptional idealizations that I have previously discussed in respect of the philosophical models of empire. The restriction to only one place in the French colonial realm offers insights into the inner dynamics of a
, Polish and Jewish Europeans. Stella, married to a white English man, is accepted in popular white society in spite of her Jewishness; although her father-in-law may have objected to the marriage, she is saved the incredulity of becoming persona non grata by virtue of her English upper-class credentials. On the other hand, when Martha dates a lower-class Polish Jew, her friends – including Stella – quickly intervene to sever the relationship and rehabilitate Martha back into respectable white society. Certainly, Martha is forgiven so rapidly for this transgression
Zawi mess room where Taylor was talking about the recent strike of Africans at Wankie and had denounced the government’s actions to break the strike. Taylor had continued to defend the rights of Africans to strike and even declared: ‘My views about the African are these. When my daughter grows up, if the African is fit to have my daughter, he can have my daughter.’ 105 Protecting white women was an axiomatic element of white masculinity within Rhodesia. By symbolically offering up his own daughter to an African man, Taylor had transgressed a constitutive element of