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Anthropology, European imperialism, and the politics of knowledge

Many questions present themselves when considering the historical relationship between anthropology and empire following the Scramble for Africa. These include the extent of imperial fortunes in Africa, rising and falling with officials' knowledge of the people under their jurisdiction. This book looks at the institutional frameworks of anthropology, and shows that the colonial project to order Africa, intellectually and politically, was a messy and not-so comprehensive endeavor. It first considers the roles of metropolitan researchers and institutes such as the colonial ethnographers active in French West Africa, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft in Berlin, and the British-based International Institute of African Languages and Cultures. The book deals with the role of African ethnograpghers for their study on African teaching assistants and schoolmasters-cum-ethnographers, and the study of Jomo Kenyatta's journey to produce Facing Mount Kenya. Swiss missionaries undertook discovery and domestication first on European soil before it was transferred to African soils and societies. Primordial imagination at work in equatorial Africa is discussed through an analysis of Fang ethnographies, and the infertility scares among Mongo in the Belgian Congo is contrasted with the Nzakara in the French Congo. Once colonial rule had been imposed, administrators and imperial managers were often forced to consider those judicial and social rules that had governed Africans' lives and had predated colonialism. Studies of Italian Northeast Africa, the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and French West Africa reveal the uneven ways in which ethnographic knowledge was pursued and applied in this respect.

Kenyatta, Malinowski, and the making of Facing Mount Kenya
Bruce Berman and John Lonsdale

social scientists of the day. In under three years, with Malinowski’s enthusiastically critical support, he published his revised diploma dissertation. The book, Facing Mount Kenya , was one of the first anthropological monographs by an African. The relationship between the two men is rarely mentioned in histories of anthropology, and then only to illustrate the

in Ordering Africa
Carol Polsgrove

same way, as became clear when Secker and Warburg published Kenyatta’s Facing Mount Kenya , which came out of the diploma thesis Kenyatta had written for the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski’s seminars. Elspeth Huxley recalled Kenyatta as ‘a favourite of Malinowski’s, who gave him frequent opportunities to express his views. This he did with ease and virtuosity, never at a loss for the correct word

in Ending British rule in Africa
Carol Polsgrove

politicians on the left, he said, ‘usually recoil in horror when sacrilegious hands are laid upon the Ark of the Covenant itself; upon the Holy of Holies of British Imperialism’. 69 Another favourable review appeared in Pan-Africa , this one apparently written by Dinah Stock (‘D. S.’), the Englishwoman who had helped Kenyatta with Facing Mount Kenya . 70 Dinah Stock

in Ending British rule in Africa
Ronald Hyam

initiation without clitoridectomy …. The initiation of both sexes is the most important custom among the Gikuyu … the moral code of the tribe is bound up with this custom and it symbolises the unification of the whole tribal organisation. [Jomo Kenyatta, Facing Mount Kenya ] Clitoridectomy is not a precise

in Empire and sexuality
Revolutionary nationalism and women’s representation in Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Elleke Boehmer

’s nationalism in connection with the important Gikuyu cultural text, Jomo Kenyatta’s Facing Mount Kenya: The Tribal Life of Gikuyu, intro. B. Malinowski (London: Secker and Warburg, 1938). 4 Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Devil on the Cross (London: Heinemann, 1982), p. 60. 5 See Ngugi, Detained, p. 3. Ngugi began to write Devil on the Cross, his first novel in Gikuyu, during his period of detention in the 1970s. 6 As early as 1971, Eddah Gachukia commended Ngugi for correcting the negative image of women in African fiction. See Gachukia, ‘The role of women in Ngugi’s novels’, Busara, 3

in Stories of women
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Carol Polsgrove

power does not negate the contribution of all these who tried to write a better world into being, even when they were in part responsible for that failure. Their books stand as evidence of a will to speak, re-envisioning Africa’s past and future: Kenyatta’s Facing Mount Kenya , Nkrumah’s Ghana , James’s Nkrumah and the Ghana Revolution , Abrahams’s novels and memoirs

in Ending British rule in Africa
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Carol Polsgrove

. Unwilling to talk with whites who looked down on him and lacking peers among other Kenyan leaders, the author of Facing Mount Kenya had undergone a profound change. The fine scholarly brain I had respected so much in Europe had gone mouldy. Prejudice had taken the place of thought. In Facing Mount Kenya Kenyatta

in Ending British rule in Africa
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National and international forces
Tamson Pietsch

intellectuals in Britain began organising their own journals and associations, from which they mounted increasingly stinging criticisms of the system that enabled British academics to monopolise knowledge of Africa. ‘I am well aware’, wrote Jomo Kenyatta in the preface to his 1938 book Facing Mount Kenya , ‘that I could not do justice to the subject without offending those

in Empire of scholars
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Countering the Mau Mau in Kenya
Aaron Edwards

prospects and promise of Communist modernity had been confirmed by Kenyatta’s own writings. Since he was a leading political dissident, his book, Facing Mount Kenya (1938), drew the authorities to him like a magnet. In it he profiled the Kikuyu tribe in all of its splendid complexity. Articulating the case that the Kikuyu considered land tenure ‘the most important factor in the social, political, religious and economic life of the tribe’, Kenyatta made clear that for the Kikuyu ‘the earth . . . [is] the “mother” of the tribe’ and is the ‘most sacred thing above all that

in Defending the realm?