Population, Tradition, and Environmental Control in Colonial Kenya

Population, Tradition, and Environmental Control in Colonial Kenya

Martin S. Shanguhyia


University of Rochester Press



Examines land management programs pushed by the colonial government in western Kenya between 1920 and 1963, analyzing how those programs were negotiated or contested by the local community.
Drawing from accounts of colonial experience in western Kenya, Population, Tradition, and Environmental Control in Colonial Kenya examines the government's efforts to enforce certain land management programs in relation to its initiatives to revive and co-opt African "traditions" in soil conservation and land consolidation programs. Martin Shanguhyia analyzes how these programs were negotiated or contested by the local community; further, he argues that their legacy continues to define the everyday experiences of the rural population in Vihiga County, Western Province, notably in terms of high population densities and diminishing returns from the land. Relying on a rich collection of archival sources as well as oral interviews, the book explores the intersection between government policies, demography, and community traditions within a rapidly declining natural environment and adds significantly to our understanding of Africa's environmental history.

Martin Shanguhyia is assistant professor of history at Syracuse University.

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December 2015
16 black and white illustrations
338 pages
9x6 in
Rochester Studies in African History and the Diaspora
ISBN: 9781580465397
Format: Hardback
University of Rochester Press
BISAC HIS001020, HIS037070, POL053000
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Administrative and Demographic Changes: Implications on Land Relations, 1900-1930
Maize and Economic Prosperity, 1920-38
Internationalizing Degradation Narratives in Kenya, 1930-38
Prewar Soil Conservation Initiatives and Local Responses, 1934-38
Wartime Production in a Besieged Environment, 1939-45
Postwar Development and the Dilemma of "Reviving" African Traditions, 1945-63
Regional Migration and Failed Agricultural Intensification, 1940-66


[A] valuable contribution to the literature on the relationship between 'indigenous knowledge', 'tradition', and 'modernity', and how these processes shaped natural resource management and conservation policies in colonial Africa. JOURNAL OF AFRICAN HISTORY

By challenging the resilience of indigenous peoples to both environmental and economic changes, Shanguhyia makes a significant contribution to African environmental history scholarship. . . . Overall, Shanguhyia's well-researched and accessible text is suitable for both upper undergraduate and graduate students. It should also find a wide readership among seasoned Africanists including historians, environmentalists, and political scientists. ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY

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