Dying races, deforestation and drought: the political ecology of social Darwinism in Kenya Colony’s western highlands

Item request has been placed! ×
Item request cannot be made. ×
loading   Processing Request
  • Author(s): Cavanagh, Connor Joseph
  • Source:
    In Journal of Historical Geography October 2019 66:93-103
  • Publication Information:
    Elsevier Ltd
  • Document Type:
    Article
  • Additional Information
    • Affiliation:
      Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, NO-1433, Ås, Norway
    • Keywords:
      Colonialism
      East Africa
      Nature
      Race
      British empire
      Political ecology
    • Abstract:
      In 1929 the administration of Kenya Colony under the governorship of Edward Grigg ordered the formation of a special committee to report on what had become known as ‘the Dorobo question’ across eastern Africa. As conceived by the committee, the Dorobo question was effectively that of how to govern ‘most hunting people’ under British rule in the region – particularly those thought to be ‘pre-tribal and pre-pastoral’ – and who were often inconveniently found to be living within newly demarcated forest reserves. An examination of the committee’s recommendations grants us insight into the ways in which colonial perceptions of incipient ‘environmental’ problems were often insidiously bound up in the social Darwinism of the period. Here, European perceptions of the Dorobo as a supposedly ‘dying race’ of forest-dwellers brings the entanglement of the period’s nascent ‘racial’ and natural sciences squarely into focus. Engaging these phenomena in relation to the case of the Sengwer community in western Kenya’s Cherangani Hills, I suggest that renewed inquiries into such conjoined discourses of race and nature may assist us in further enriching our understanding of the multiple, perpetually contested dimensions of identity formation within (post)colonial East Africa. Not least, the nuances of these dynamics may help us to more fully understand how the afterlives of these diverse racialisations and tribalisations continue to impinge upon the grievances of affected communities in the present, enabling an explicitly postcolonial – rather than, necessarily, a primordialist, instrumentalist or constructivist – perspective on recent articulations of ‘indigenous’ or ‘ethnic minority’ rights in eastern Africa.
    • ISSN:
      0305-7488
    • Accession Number:
      10.1016/j.jhg.2019.09.005
    • Accession Number:
      S0305748818301403
    • Copyright:
      © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
  • Citations
    • ABNT:
      CAVANAGH, C. J. Dying races, deforestation and drought: the political ecology of social Darwinism in Kenya Colony’s western highlands. Journal of Historical Geography, [s. l.], v. 66, p. 93–103, 2019. DOI 10.1016/j.jhg.2019.09.005. Disponível em: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edselp&AN=S0305748818301403. Acesso em: 22 set. 2020.
    • AMA:
      Cavanagh CJ. Dying races, deforestation and drought: the political ecology of social Darwinism in Kenya Colony’s western highlands. Journal of Historical Geography. 2019;66:93-103. doi:10.1016/j.jhg.2019.09.005
    • APA:
      Cavanagh, C. J. (2019). Dying races, deforestation and drought: the political ecology of social Darwinism in Kenya Colony’s western highlands. Journal of Historical Geography, 66, 93–103. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhg.2019.09.005
    • Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date:
      Cavanagh, Connor Joseph. 2019. “Dying Races, Deforestation and Drought: The Political Ecology of Social Darwinism in Kenya Colony’s Western Highlands.” Journal of Historical Geography 66 (October): 93–103. doi:10.1016/j.jhg.2019.09.005.
    • Harvard:
      Cavanagh, C. J. (2019) ‘Dying races, deforestation and drought: the political ecology of social Darwinism in Kenya Colony’s western highlands’, Journal of Historical Geography, 66, pp. 93–103. doi: 10.1016/j.jhg.2019.09.005.
    • Harvard: Australian:
      Cavanagh, CJ 2019, ‘Dying races, deforestation and drought: the political ecology of social Darwinism in Kenya Colony’s western highlands’, Journal of Historical Geography, vol. 66, pp. 93–103, viewed 22 September 2020, .
    • MLA:
      Cavanagh, Connor Joseph. “Dying Races, Deforestation and Drought: The Political Ecology of Social Darwinism in Kenya Colony’s Western Highlands.” Journal of Historical Geography, vol. 66, Oct. 2019, pp. 93–103. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.jhg.2019.09.005.
    • Chicago/Turabian: Humanities:
      Cavanagh, Connor Joseph. “Dying Races, Deforestation and Drought: The Political Ecology of Social Darwinism in Kenya Colony’s Western Highlands.” Journal of Historical Geography 66 (October 1, 2019): 93–103. doi:10.1016/j.jhg.2019.09.005.
    • Vancouver/ICMJE:
      Cavanagh CJ. Dying races, deforestation and drought: the political ecology of social Darwinism in Kenya Colony’s western highlands. Journal of Historical Geography [Internet]. 2019 Oct 1 [cited 2020 Sep 22];66:93–103. Available from: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edselp&AN=S0305748818301403