The Storm in Kenya: Mau Mau in Systems of Thought


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


History of Consciousness


This dissertation traces how understandings of what is most commonly known as the Mau Mau Uprising in late-colonial Kenya interfaced with the broader intellectual history and social processes of decolonization on the African continent. The project reconstructs visions of Mau Mau in order to show how this event came to be understood in both other parts of Africa and the wider world — visions which often compete against, or overlap with, one another. Alongside the intensity of the struggle itself, the colonial state’s suppression of the movement through the indiscriminate mass detention of hundreds of thousands of Africans and brutal methods for extracting military intelligence produced a global interest in Mau Mau, giving rise to widespread debates about its nature and significance. The broader arc of this dissertation thus engages with the comparative study of European imperialisms, the history of post-WWII counter-insurgency, pan-African thought, and contemporary configurations of race.