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Professor David Anderson

David Anderson Office:
Office Hours:
Room 3.47, Third Floor, Faculty of Arts Building
Monday, 3-4 pm; Tuesday, 2-3 pm, 4-5 pm.
+44 (0) 24 76150991 (internal extension 50991)


Academic Profile

  • 2013-present: Professor in African History, University of Warwick
  • 2009-10 Director, British Institute in Eastern Africa, Nairobi
  • 2006-12 Professor in African Politics, University of Oxford
  • 2002-06 University Lecturer in African Politics, University of Oxford
  • 1998-2002 Director, Centre of African Studies, University of London
  • 1991-2002 Senior Lecturer in History, SOAS, University of London
  • 1984-91 Lecturer in Imperial & Commonwealth History, Birkbeck College, London
  • 1983-84 Research Fellow in History, New Hall [Murray Edwards College], Cambridge
  • 1982-83 Rouse-Ball Scholar (Postdoctoral), Trinity College, Cambridge
  • 1978-82 Ph.D. in History, Trinity College, University of Cambridge
  • 1975-78 B.A. in History (First Class), University of Sussex

Visiting Positions and Honours

  • 2022- Fellow of the British Academy
  • 2021-22 H.F. Guggenheim Distinguished Scholar
  • 2018 Visiting Scholar, Suzy Newhouse Research Center, Wellesley College
  • 2017-24 Research Associate in History, Stellenbosch University
  • 2016-25 International Faculty Professor, University of Cologne
  • 2012-15 Senior Research Associate, Peace Research Institute, Oslo
  • 2005-06 Stewart Fellow in the Humanities, Princeton University
  • 2002-03 Evans-Pritchard Visiting Lecturer, All Souls College, Oxford
  • 1994 Visiting Fellow in African History, University of Cape Town
  • 1992- Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
  • 1980-82 Research Associate, History Department, University of Nairobi

Recent and Forthcoming Public Lectures, Conferences, Workshops and Seminars

5-6 July 2024. Workshop, 'Past Futures; New Histories from Southern Africa', University of Zambia, Lusaka. Paper - tbc

6 June 2024. Bremen Research Colloquium, Germany. Paper - Race and the Rope: Execution and Intimate Violence in Colonial Kenya, 1902-1963

25 April 2024. Laudatory Testimonial for Professor Phil Clark, introducing his Inaugural Lecture at SOAS London: Rwanda under the RPF: assessing 30 years of post-genocide recovery

22 March 2024. History Workshop, University of Dar-es-Salaam, 'Failed Futures? Revisiting Tanzania’s Colonial and Post-colonial Planning and Future-making Trajectories'. Paper - Imagined Futures in Tanzania’s Rural Development: The Rise (and Fall?) of SAGCOT

21 February 2024. Centre of African Studies Seminar Series, University of Edinburgh. Paper - 'South Africa's empire on the rivers and the militarization of Caprivi Zipfel. c.1948-75'

25 January 2024. African Studies Seminar, Leiden University, The Netherlands. Paper - 'South Africa's empire on the rivers and the militarization of Caprivi Zipfel. c.1948-75'

7-8 December 2023. Workshop, University of Jena, Germany, 'Emergency Mindsets: On the History of States of Exception'. Paper - 'The Evolving Arts of Emergency Powers under British Rule, 1919-1998'.

24 November 2023. Society for the History of War, Second Annual Conference, at the National Library of Portugal, Lisbon. Panel Chair - 'Logics of Violence in Insurgency and Counter-insurgency'

23 November 2023. Society for the History of War, Second Annual Conference, at the National Library of Portugal, Lisbon. Roundtable Discussant - 'Uncivil War: The British Army and The Troubles, 1966-75'.

9 November 2023. 'Future Rural Africa' Annual Retreat, Kloster Steinfeld, Germany. Paper - 'Progress Review: Past Futures in the KAZA'

3 November 2023. Global History Africa @ Warwick Workshop, 'Past Futures: New Histories from Southern Africa'. Paper - 'Militarising Caprivi and the origins of the Border War'.

Film and audio broadcasts, and podcasts

Research Interests

  • SECURITY AND ENVIRONMENT IN EASTERN AFRICA - Developing my long-standing interest in the environmental history of eastern Africa, between November 2019 and June 2022 I undertook a Global Challenges Research Fund (British Academy) project on Understanding the dynamics of Water Scarcity and Violence in Kenya. This project was in partnership with Professor Kennedy Mkutu Agade, of United States International University, Nairobi, and also involved collaboration with Dr Gerard Wandera and his staff at Kenya's National Crime Research Centre. Dr Klerkson Lugusa was a Post-doctoral Research Fellow on the project (and is now in a teaching position at USIU, Nairobi), and the Field Assistant was Evelyne Atieno Owino (who has now gone on to take up doctoral studies at the University of Bonn). Fieldwork for this project was completed in Kenya's Narok County and Isiolo County, but security conditions prevented the full completion of work in Marsabit County. Details of this project can be found on the British Academy websiteLink opens in a new window. One article from this research has now been published in the Journal of Environment & Development, a second paper is accepted for an edited collection that is about to go into press, and a third paper is in peer review. This project on hydro-histories connects to the research undertaken in Phase 1 of the African Rural Futures programme, where the changing character of the Kilombero River and its fluctuating flood regime is a key element of the research. Two further publications from this research have now been completed, and will appear in 2023. A related environmental history project, to produce a new edition of the Conservation in Africa edited volume (first published by CUP in 1987), is also underway, in collaboration with Professor Michael Bollig at the University of Cologne. An initial workshop on this project was held in April 2021. We plan to submitted the final manuscript before the end of 2023.
  • AFRICAN RURAL FUTURES - Following the successful completion of the EU-funded Marie Curie International Training Network (ITN) Project, 'Resilience in East African Landscapes' (REAL) (a video on the work of the REAL project can be seen at, I have maintained research collaboration with colleagues at the University of Cologne and University of Bonn through a Collaborative Research Centre on African Rural Futures, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). This commenced from January 2018 for an initial period of four years. I was P-I on the project 'Past Futures: Micro-histories of rural development in southern Tanzania', working with Warwick doctoral graduate Dr Maxmillian Chuhila, now a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Dar es Salaam. Jonathan M. Jackson completed his doctorate under this stream of funding, and he has now published two articles with further publications to come, and his monograph on the history of development in kilombero is in press. Four MA dissertations at the University of Dar es Salaam were also linked to the Kilombero project, and one of these students (Emma Minge) has now successfully made the transition onto the doctoral programme at the University of Cologne. A second Phase of funding for African Rural Futures was approved in 2021, and work on this commenced in January 2022. My own project in this Phase carries forward our work on 'Past Futures', focussing on the Kavango-Zambezi Transnational Conservation Area, centring on north-east Namibia. Archival research on this transnational project continues, with work already completed at the UK National Archives (Kew), the UN Archive in New York, the Western Cape Archives in Cape Town, the National Archives of Zambia (Lusaka), the Botswana National Archive Services, and the South African National Archives (Pretoria). Further archival research will take place in Windhoek and Kew before the end of the current year. Fieldwork in Namibia and Zambia is planned for late sujmmer 2023 and spring 2024, along with archival research at the National Archives of Namibia, Windhoek, the Botswana National Archives in Gaborone, and the South African Defence Forces Archive in Pretoria. Initial findings from this research have been presented to the Southern African History Society Conference in East London (2022), and further papers will be presented to the Botswana Society in Gaborone and at ECAS 9 in Cologne in June 2023, and at Leiden University in January 2024.
  • HISTORIES OF COLONIAL VIOLENCE - A Fellowship has been awarded for 2021-22 by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation for a project on 'Understanding violence and incarceration in Africa: evidence from British colonies and post-colonial states', on which I am Co-I with Dr Katherine Bruce-Lockhart (University of Waterloo). Two articles and a jointly-authored monograph are planned from this project, and our first presentation was made in June 2022 to a workshop on histories of incarceration held at DIGNITY, Copenhagen. A collection of essays under the title Resistance, Protest and Rebellion in Kenya; Colonial Crimes, 1895-1963, is now in press with Routledge, to be published in 2023. Further work on occult histories in western Kenya, and on the violence of the British counter-insurgency in 1950s Kenya is also progressing, with two articles and a further monograph planned for 2023. A paper on punitive expeditions and the definition of colonial violence was presented at the Society for the History of War (SHoW) conference in Amsterdam in November 2023, and I also participated in the conference on Mau Mau organised at the University of Nairobi in October 2022, presenting a keynote lecture at this event. During the past 18 months I have contributed to two films on the history of the Mau Mau rebellion. The first, Britain's Forgotten Wars, episode 6, Mau Mau, was first broadcast on Channel 4 on 30 October 2021. The second film, made by Rogan Productions, is unquestionably the best and most historically revealing film yet made about any of Britain's wars of decolonization: A Very British Way of Torture was broadcast in Channel 4's prestigious Secret Histories series on 14 August, and will be made available online by Al Jazeera Investigates from December 2022.
  • EMPIRE LOYALISTS - Along with Warwick colleague Professor Daniel Branch, I still hope to finish writing up the research findings from a project on 'Empire Loyalists: Histories of Rebellion and Collaboration', funded by the AHRC. A conference and a workshop from this project were held in Warwick during April 2014. A special issue of the journal International History Review was published in early 2017, carrying nine papers from these meetings. This has also appeared as a hardback book, published by Routledge. A monograph from this project is contracted with Oxford University Press.

Doctoral student supervision (since 2016)

  • Maxmillian Chuhila, 'Coming Down the Mountain: Environmental History of Kilimanjaro Lowlands, since 1918' (EU Marie Curie ITN funding). Completed October 2016. (Dr Chuhila is now Senior Lecturer in History, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania).
  • George Roberts, 'Politics, decolonization and the Cold War in Dar es Salaam, c.1965-72' (AHRC funding). Co-supervised with Professor Dan Branch. Completed Sept 2016. (Dr Roberts is Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Sheffield, and for 2022-23 he will be a Research Fellow at the European University, Florence).
  • Nicole Beardsworth, 'Political party mobilisation strategies in Africa: Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe' (Association of Commonwealth Universities funding). Co-supervised with Professor Gabrielle Lynch. Completed August 2018. (Dr Beardsworth is now Lecturer in Politics at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa).
  • Anna Bruzzone, 'Territorial appropriation, trade, and politics in the Kenya-Somalia borderlands, c.1925-1963: state formation in transitional perspective' (Chancellor's Scholarship, Warwick). (After holding teaching posts at the University of Oxford and at SOAS London, Dr Bruzzone is now working as a consultant in the museums and heritage sector in France). Completed November 2019.
  • Jo Tierney, 'From design to consumption: the export trade in printed and dyed textiles, British West Africa, c.1870-1914' (Warwick Endowment Funding). Co-supervised with Professor Giorgio Riello. Completed July 2019. (Dr Tierney currently holds a Research Fellowship in History at the University of Nottingham, on a project entitled 'Global Lace').
  • Christian Velasco Reyes, 'A history of banking institutions in Kenya, c.1950-1980s' (Mexican Government Scholarship). Co-supervised with Professor Dan Branch. Completed November 2019. (Dr Velasco is currently Professor and Researcher in International History, Centre of Research & Teaching in Economics (CIDE), Mexico City).
  • Jenny Price, 'Learning democracy? Local practices of the transformation in East Germany, 1989-1991' (ESRC Tied award). Co-supervised with Professor Jan Palmowski. Completed July 2020. (Dr Price currently holds the post of Wissenschaftliche Geschäftsführung at the Jena Center for the History of the 20th Century.)
  • Jonathan M. Jackson, 'Past futures: a history of development in the Kilombero Valley, Tanzania' (German Research Council funding for the 'African Rural Futures' research programme, at University of Cologne). Completed January 2022. (Dr Jackson now holds a post-doctoral position with CRC 228 African Rural Futures, at the University of Cologne.)
  • Riley Linebaugh, 'Curating the Colonial Past: Britain's 'Migrated Archive' and the Struggle for Kenya's History' (German Research Council funding, at Justus-Liebig-Universität, Gießen). Co-supervised with Prof Dr Katharina Stornig. Completed February 2022. (Dr Linebaugh now holds a post-doctoral position at the Leibniz Institute for European History, Mainz.)

  • April Jackson 'Execution and Empire'. (MGS DTP, ESRC Joint Studentship, with University of Leicester). Co-supervised with Professor Clare Anderson. Current, completion due December 2023.
  • Nathalie Cooper 'Colonial violence in the Museum: the Horniman'. (AHRC CDA, in collaboration with the Horniman Museum). Co-supervised with Dr Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp and Professor Robert Fletcher. Current, completion due March 2025.
  • Fleur Martin 'Looting, Trade and The Gift: Imperial Collecting in Eastern Africa, 1860-1914' (CADRE Studentship, Warwick). Current, completion due June 2024.
  • Niels Boender 'The afterlife of war: Kenya's Mau Mau rebellion' (AHRC CDP, collaboration with the Imperial War Museum, held in conjunction with a Chancellor's Award, University of Warwick). Co-supervised with Professor Daniel Branch and Dr Carl Warner. Current, completion due September 2024.
  • Ian Caistor-Parker 'Punishment and the State in Kenya, since 1950' (MGS, ESRC-DTP Joint Studentship, with University of Leicester). Co-supervised with Professor Clare Anderson. Current, completion due March 2025.
  • Rose Miyonga 'Legacy, Memory, and Memorialisation of Mau Mau in Kenya, since 1963' (M4C AHRC Studentship). Co-supervised with Professor Dan Branch. Current, completion due March 2025. 
  • Emma Orchardson ' The Cultural Cold War in Banda's Malawi, c.1959 to 1989' (Wolfson Foundation Studentship). Co-supervised with Professor Dan Branch. Current, completion due March 2025.
  • Ali Ahmed Al Khalifa, 'The Adviser: Charles Belgrave and British Informal Imperialism in the Gulf'. Part-time, self-funded. Co-supervised with Professor Robert Fletcher. Current, completion due October 2025.

Current Teaching

Publications (Books)


Allies at the End of Empire: Loyalists, Nationalists, and the Cold War, 1945-76 (with Daniel Branch, eds). Routledge: London & New York, September 2017. Pp. ix + 190. ISBN 978-1-138-06319-8.

This wars of decolonisation fought by European colonial powers after 1945 had their origins in the fraught history of imperial domination, but were framed and shaped by the emerging politics of the Cold War. In all the counter-insurgencies mounted against armed nationalist risings in this period, the European colonial powers employed locally recruited militias to fight their 'dirty wars'. Styled as 'loyalists', these militias fought against nationalists. Loyalist histories have been neglected in the nationalist narratives that have dominated across the former colonial territories. This book offers the first comparative assessment of the role played by these allies at the end of empire. Their experience illuminates the deeper ambiguities of the decolonisation story: some loyalists were subjected to vengeful violence at liberation; others actually claimed the victory for themselves and seized control of the emergent state; while others still maintained a role as fighting units into the Cold War. The overlap between the history of decolonisation and the emergence of the Cold War is the central theme in the studies presented here. The essays in this collection discuss the categorisation of these 'irregular auxiliary' forces after 1945, and present seven case studies from five European colonialisms, covering nine former colonies - Portugal (Angola), the Netherlands (Indonesia), France (Algeria), Belgium (Congo) and Britain (Cyprus, Kenya, Aden, South Yemen and Oman).


Resilience and Collapse in African Savannahs

Resilience and Collapse in African Savannahs: Causes and Consequences of Environmental Change in Eastern Africa (with Michael Bollig, eds). Routledge: London & New York, January 2017. Pp. x + 232. ISBN 978-1-138-28877-5.

This book assesses the causes and consequences of environmental change in East Africa, asking whether local Africa communities are sufficiently resilient to cope with the ecological and social challenges that confront them? It focuses on the savannahs of the Baringo-Bogoria basin, and the surrounding highlands of Kenya’s northern Rift Valley that form the social-ecological system of the specialised cattle pastoralists and niche agricultural farmers who occupy these semi-arid lands. Historical studies of resilience spanning the past two centuries are linked with analysis of current environmental challenges, and the ecological, social, economic and political responses mounted by local communities. The authors question whether the most recent challenges confronting the peoples of eastern Africa’s savannahs – intensified conflicts, mounting poverty driven by demographic pressures, and dramatic ecological changes brought by invasive species – might soon lead to a collapse in essential elements of the specialised cattle pastoralism that dominates the region, requiring a re-orientation of the social-ecological system.


Politics and Violence in Eastern AfricaPolitics and Violence in Eastern Africa: Struggles of Emerging States (with Oystein Rolandsen, eds). Routledge: London & New York, 2015. Pp. ix + 211. ISBN 978-1-138-84666-1 hb; ISBN 978-1-138-05961-0 pb.

Over the fifty years between 1940 and 1990, the countries of eastern Africa were embroiled in a range of debilitating and destructive conflicts, starting with the wars of independence, but then incorporating rebellion, secession and local insurrection as the Cold War replaced colonialism. The articles gathered here illustrate how significant, widespread, and dramatic this violence was. In these years, violence was used as a principal instrument in the creation and consolidation of the authority of the state; and it was also regularly and readily utilised by those who wished to challenge state authority through insurrection and secession. Why was it that eastern Africa should have experienced such extensive and intensive violence in the fifty years before 1990? Was this resort to violence a consequence of imperial rule, the legacy of oppressive colonial domination under a coercive and non-representative state system? Did essential contingencies such as the Cold War provoke and promote the use of violence? Or, was it a choice made by Africans themselves and their leaders, a product of their own agency? This book focuses on these turbulent decades, exploring the principal conflicts in six key countries – Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Tanzania.


Routledge Handbook of African PoliticsThe Routledge Handbook of African Politics (with Nic Cheeseman & Andrea Scheibler, eds). Routledge, London & New York, 2013. Pp. xv + 437. ISBN 978-0-415-57378-8, 978-0-203-07068 ebook, 978-1-138-84375-2 paper.

Providing a comprehensive and cutting edge examination of this important continent, Routledge Handbook of African Politics surveys the key debates and controversies, dealing with each of the major issues to be found in Africa’s politics today. Structured into 6 broad areas, the handbook features over 30 contributions focused around The State, Identity, Conflict, Democracy and Electoral Politics, Political Economy & Development, and International Relations. Each chapter deals with a specific topic, providing an overview of the main arguments and theories and explaining the empirical evidence that they are based on, drawing on high-profile cases such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. The Handbook also contains new contributions on a wide range of topical issues, including terrorism, the growing influence of China, civil war, and transitional justice, making it required reading for non-specialists and experts alike.


khat_controversy.jpgThe Khat Controversy: Stimulating the Debate on Drugs (with Susan Beckerleg, Degol Hailu and Axel Klein). Berg: Oxford, 2007. Pp. ix + 254. ISBN 978-1-84520-250-7, 978-1-84520-251-4 paper.

Khat. A harmless natural stimulant or a lethal epidemic sweeping through the international drugs trade? Khat is a natural substance that, in the Middle East, is as ubiquitous as coffee is in the West. It is hugely popular in some African and Arab populations. But critics contend that it is a seriously addictive stimulant that damages the cardiovascular system. In a groundbreaking study, the authors go behind the veil of the drug, questioning its availability and its effect on its Red Sea producers. Interwoven with case studies from Djibouti to Rome, The Khat Controversy goes deeper to explore contemporary issues relating to globalisation, ethnicity and culture. With its popularity escalating in London, Rome, Toronto and Copenhagen, khat is fast becoming a problem in the West. The first study of this contested drug, The Khat Controversy provides a concise introduction to the issues surrounding khat usage and suggests how policymakers should address them.

'Outstanding and original. The authors identify trends in consumption, chart the development of the khat economy, and evaluate prohibition debates, paying attention throughout to both local and global contexts.' James Mills, Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare Glasgow, University of Strathclyde


histories_of_the_hanged.jpgHistories of the Hanged: Britain’s Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire. W.W. Norton, New York; Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2005. Pp. xiv + 405. ISBN 0-39305-986-3 (US), 0-29784-719-8 (UK); ISBN 0-393-32754-X (US paper), 0-75381-902-3 (UK paper)

A remarkable account of Britain's last stand in Kenya . . . This is imperial history at its very best." John Hope Franklin

IN "A GRIPPING NARRATIVE . . . that is all but impossible to put down" (Joseph C. Miller), Histories of the Hanged exposes the long-hidden colonial crimes of the British in Kenya. This groundbreaking work tells how the brutal war between the colonial government and the insurrectionist Mau Mau between 1952 and 1960 dominated the final bloody decade of imperialism in East Africa. Using extraordinary new evidence, David Anderson puts the colonial government on trial with eyewitness testimony from over 800 court cases and previously unseen archives. His research exonerates the Kikuyu rebels—hardly the terrorists they were thought to be—and reveals the British to be brutal aggressors in a "dirty war" that involved leaders at the highest ranks of the British government. This astonishing piece of scholarship portrays a teetering colonial empire in its final phase—employing whatever military and propaganda methods it could to preserve an order that could no longer hold.


eroding-the-commons.jpgEroding the Commons: Politics of Ecology in Baringo, Kenya, 1890-1963. James Currey, Oxford; Ohio UP, Athens OH; EAEP, Nairobi. Pp. xvi + 336. ISBN 0-85255-469-9, 0-85255-468-0 paper.

Colonial Baringo was largely unnoticed until drought and localised famine in the mid-1920s led to claims that its crisis was brought on by overcrowding and livestock mismanagement. In response to the alarm over erosion, the state embarked on a program for rehabilitation, conservation, and development. Eroding the Commons examines Baringo's efforts to contend with the problems of erosion and describes how they became a point of reference for similar programs in British Africa, especially as rural development began to encompass goals beyond economic growth and toward an accelerated transformation of African society. It provides an excellent focus for the investigation of the broader evolution of colonial ideologies and practices of development.

Supporting Ownership - Volume ISupporting Ownership - Volume IISupporting Ownership: Swedish Development Cooperation with Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, 2 vols: Volume I Synthesis; Volume II Case Studies (with Christopher Cramer, Alemayehu Geda, Degol Hailu, Frank Muhereza, Matteo Rizzo, Eric Ronge, Howard Stein & John Weeks). Sida Evaluations 02/33 & 02/33.1, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency: Stockholm, 2002. Pp. iv + 87, xv + 229. ISBN 91-586-8737-8, 91-586-8736-x.

This study, conducted on behalf of the Swedish International Development Agency, considers the extent to which development projects and programmes in East Africa have been in the past and are in the present "owned" by local peoples and governments, even when they are funded by external donors. Volume 1 provides a consideration of the theory of "ownership" in development, and especially its impact on relations between donors and recipients, tracing out a history of the idea of ownership in both the rhetoric and practice of international agencies and national governments. Volume 2 provides three case studies, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, for which a series of Swedish development projects are scrutinized and the extent of local 'ownership" assessed. The case studies indicate that the extent of ownership is as much a function of the willingness of recipient governments to accept responsibility for development projects as it is an indication of the policy of the donor to foster local ownership.


the-poor-are-not-us.jpgThe Poor Are Not Us: Poverty & Pastoralism in Eastern Africa (with Vigdis Broch-Due, eds). James Currey, Oxford; Ohio UP, Athens OH; EAEP, Nairobi; Mkuki na Nyota, Dar es Salaam; Fountain Press, Kampala, 2000. Pp. xii + 280. ISBN 0-85255-266-1, 0-85255-265-3 paper.

Eastern African pastoralists often present themselves as being egalitarian, equating cattle ownership with wealth. By this definition “the poor are not us”, poverty is confined to non-pastoralist, socially excluded persons and groups. Exploring this notion means discovering something about self-perceptions and community consciousness, how pastoralist identity has been made in opposition to other modes of production, how pastoralists want others to see them and how they see themselves. This collection rejects the premise of pastoral egalitarianism and poses questions about the gradual creep of poverty, changing patterns of wealth and accumulation, the impact of diminishing resources on pastoral communities and the impact of external values of land, labour, and livestock.


africas-urban-past.jpgAfrica's Urban Past (with Richard Rathbone, eds). James Currey, Oxford; Heinemann, Portsmouth NH, 1999. Pp. x + 310. ISBN 0-85255-760-4, 0-85255-761-2 paper.

Africa is witnessing dramatic urban growth on a massive scale which, in the space of this century, has reversed the rural—urban settlement patterns of the continent. Yet urbanisation has been an important feature of Africa's history for over two thousand years. Towns and cities have been important arenas around which societies have organised themselves: as centres of trade, economic activity and wealth accumulation; as foci of political action and authority; as military garrisons and symbols of physical domination; as sites of ritual power and contact with the sacred; and as places of refuge, shelter and collective security in troubled times. This survey reveals a remarkable depth of urbanisation in African history. Each chapter places the city at the centre of discussion. Themes developed are unexpectedly diverse, suggesting not only a distinctive history of urbanism but offering great potential for further research. This volume is thus presented as a starting point for the writing of deeper comparative histories of Africa's urban past.


Maasai: People of CattleMaasai: People of Cattle. The Little Wisdom Library. Labyrinth Publishing, London; Chronicle Books, New York, 1995. Pp. 62. ISBN 1-85538-422-1 (UK), 0-8118-0831-9 (USA).

This short study, in the Little Wisdom Library series, provides a concise introduction to the culture and history of the Maasai peoples of the Rift Valley of eastern Africa. The dominance of cattle in Maasai culture is described and explained, through social relationships, symbolism, beliefs, and the idiom of language. The role of spirituality in Maasai life, and especially the important historical role played by the figure of the loibon - prophets who have dominated the political and spiritual life of the Maasai since at least the early nineteenth century. The distinctive Maasai age-set system, reinforced by family structure, is adapted to the needs of the pastoral lifestyle. The text is illustrated with Maa-language poems and proverbs, and numerous high-quality photographs.

revealing-prophets.jpgRevealing Prophets: Prophecy and History in Eastern Africa (with Douglas H. Johnson, eds). James Currey, London; Ohio UP, Athens OH; EAEP, Nairobi; Fountain Press, Kampala, 1995. Pp. x+310. ISBN 0-85255-718-3, 0-85255-717-5 paper.

The purpose of this book is to move towards a clearer understanding of the history of prophets within the region of East Africa, and to give an analytical account of the different forms prophecy has taken over the years from place to place. The book takes a new look at the active dialogue between the prophets and the communities whom they addressed. It suggests that this dialogue continues today as politicians and activists throughout the region still look to prophetic traditions, garnering interpretations of the past in order to provide the validation of prophetic wisdom and heroes for the present.


Policing and DecolonisationPolicing and Decolonisation: Nationalism, Politics and the Police, 1917-1965 (with David Killingray, eds). Manchester University Press: Manchester & New York, 1992. Pp. xii + 230. ISBN 0-7190-3033-1.

Policing and Decolonisation provides the first comprehensive study of the problems faced by the imperial police forces during the acute political dislocations brought about by the rise of nationalism in the colonial world. Decolonisation in the British Empire placed new and heavy burdens upon colonial police forces. As imperial political authority was increasingly challenged, sometimes with violence, locally-recruited police became the front-line guardians of alien law and order. The contributors to this volume look at the changing roles and experience of police forces, at the heightened political involvement of the police, at the increase in the size of police forces, and at the improvements armament and the development of Special Branches. The book also explores the degree to which central co-ordination of police activities conflicted with local sympathies causing crises in loyalty and recruitment.


Policing the EmpirePolicing the Empire: Government, Authority and Control, 1830-1940 (with David Killingray, eds). Manchester University Press: Manchester & New York, 1991. Pp. xii + 260. ISBN 0-7190-3035-8.

This important collection of essays breaks new ground in looking at the major role played by the colonial police forces in establishing and maintaining imperial authority. Policing the Empire highlights the centrality of the maintenance of law and order to the authority of the British Empire. A uniformed and disciplined body of paramilitary police, charged with imposing alien law and establishing and extending new measure of social control was one of the first bodies set up by colonial rulers. Nor did this significant role diminish after the initial establishment of imperial government. The structure, manning and role of police forces had an enduring influence on the conduct of colonial rule, from Ireland to India, and Australia to West Africa. The contributors also show how the experience of early colonial forces in India and the colonies of white settlement substantially shaped the development of police forces in the later colonies of Asia and Africa.  


The Ecology of SurvivalThe Ecology of Survival: Case Studies from Northeast African History (with Douglas H. Johnson, eds). Lester Crook Academic Publishing: London: Westview Press, Boulder CO, 1988. Pp. xii + 339. ISBN 1-870915-00-3.

The 1970s and 1980s famines of northeast Africa horrified the world. For many they reinforced the popular perception of Africa being pushed into ecological decline by inefficient traditional farming and herding practices. This book takes a different view, focussing on the survival of rural communities and their systems of production, and applying an historical perspective to the problem of ecological change in northeast Africa. In their case studies the authors describe how various societies survived disaster and change in the past, how they are currently responding to the problem of changing ecologies, and how the activities of modern states in the region affect local ecological relationships and the ability of rural societies to cope with change. As Professor John Lonsdale comments: "The book provides a better understanding of past crises, and so has vital implications for current developpment policies. However, the editors and contributors are careful not to draw facile "lessons of history" for the correction of present wrongs and follies. But there is an implicit message nonetheless: the rulers, investors, and planners ought to be much more sensitive to local complimentarities in ways of life before they too crudely, too greedily, or too blithely assume that the locals are a problem, with nothing but their obedient labour to contribute to a solution."


conservation-in-africa.jpgConservation in Africa: People, Policies and Practice (with Richard Grove, eds). Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1987. Pp. ix + 355. ISBN 0-521-34199-X, 0-521-34990-7 paper (1989). Now in its sixth reprint.

This book provides a new inter-disciplinary look at the practice and policies of conservation in Africa. Bringing together social scientists, anthropologists and historians with biologists for the first time, the book sheds some light on the previously neglected but critically important social aspects of conservation thinking. To date conservation has been very much the domain of the biologist, but the current ecological crisis in Africa and the failure of orthodox conservation policies demand a radical new appraisal of conventional practices. This new approach to conservation, the book argues, cannot deal simply with the survival of species and habitats, for the future of African wildlife is intimately tied to the future of African rural communities. Conservation must form an integral part of future policies for human development. The book emphasizes this urgent need for a complementary rather than a competitive approach. It covers a wide range of topics important to this new approach, from wildlife management to soil conservation and from the Cape in the nineteenth century to Ethiopia in the 1980s. It is essential reading for all those concerned about people and conservation in Africa.

Publications (Articles and Book Chapters)



  • ‘Preface: Colonial Incarceration.’ In Colonial Incarceration in the Twentieth Century, eds Philip J. Havik, Helena Pinto Janeiro, Pedro Aires Oliveira and Irene Pimentel (Abingdon: Routledge, 2021): iii-iv.


  • ‘Kenya’s War in Somalia.’ In Nic Cheeseman, Karuti Kanyinga, and Gabrielle Lynch (eds), Oxford Handbook of Kenyan Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020): 576-88.


  • ‘Women missionaries and colonial silences in Kenya’s female “circumcision” controversy, 1906-30.’ English Historical Review 133, no.565 (2018): 1512-1545.
  • ‘Buried treasures.’ Index on Censorship 47, i (2018): 53-4. (Special issue, The Abuse of History: The Powers Being Used to Manipulate the Past.)
  • (with Julianne Weis) ‘The prosecution of rape in wartime: evidence from Kenya’s Mau Mau rebellion, 1952-60.’ Law & History Review 36, ii (2018): 267-294.


  • 'Mau Mau on trial: Dedan Kimathi’s prosecution and Kenya’s colonial justice.' In Dedan Kimathi on Trial: Colonial Justice and Popular Memory in Kenya's Mau Mau Rebellion, ed Julie MacArthur, 233-257 (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2017).
  • 'Making the loyalist bargain: surrender, amnesty, and impunity in Kenya’s decolonization, 1952-63.' International History Review 39, i (2017): 48-70.
  • (with Daniel Branch) 'Allies at the end of empire: loyalists, nationalists and the Cold War, 1945-76.' International History Review 39, i (2017): 1-13.


  • 'The beginning of time? Evidence for catastrophic drought in Baringo in the early nineteenth century.' Journal of Eastern African Studies 10, i (2016): 41-59.
  • (with Michael Bollig) 'Resilience and collapse: histories, ecologies, conflicts and identities in the Baringo-Bogoria basin, Kenya.' Journal of Eastern African Studies 10, i (2016): 1-20.
  • (with Paul J. Lane) ‘The unburied victims of Kenya’s Mau Mau rebellion: where and when does the violence end?’ In Human Remains in Society: Curation and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Genocide and Mass Violence, eds Jean-Marc Dreyfus & Elisabeth Anstett, 14-37 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016).
  • (with Jonathan Fisher) 'Authoritarianism and the Securitization of Development in Uganda.' In Development and Democracy: Foreign Aid and Authoritarian Regimes in Africa, eds Tobias Hagmann & Filip Reyntjens, 65-86 (London: Zed Books, 2016).


  • (with Jacob McKnight) 'Understanding al-Shabaab: clan, Islam, and insurgency in Kenya.' Journal of Eastern African Studies 9, iii (2015): 536-57.
  • ‘Guilty secrets: deceit, denial, and the discovery of Kenya’s “Migrated Archive.”’ History Workshop Journal 80 (Autumn 2015): 142-160.
  • (with Oystein H. Rolandsen) 'Violence in the contemporary political history of eastern Africa.' International Journal of African Historical Studies 48, i (2015): 1-12.
  • (with Jonathan Fisher). ‘Authoritarianism and the securitization of development in Africa.’ International Affairs 91, i (2015): 131-152.
  • (with Jacob McKnight). ‘Kenya at war: al-Shabaab and its enemies in eastern Africa.’ African Affairs 114, 454 (2015): 1-27.


  • ‘Remembering Wagalla: state violence in northern Kenya, 1962-1991.’ Journal of Eastern African Studies 8, iv (2014): 658-76.
  • (with Oystein Rolandsen). ‘Violence as politics in eastern Africa, 1940-90: legacy, agency, contingency.’ Journal of Eastern African Studies 8, iv (2014): 539-57.
  • ‘Exit from empire: counter-insurgency and decolonization in Kenya, 1952-63.’ In At the End of Military Intervention: Historical, Theoretical and Applied Solutions to Transition, Handover and Withdrawal, eds. Timothy Clack and Robert Johnson, 107-36. (Changing Character of War Series, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).
  • 'Why Mpeketoni Matters: Al-Shabaab and Violence in Kenya.' Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, NOREF Report: Oslo, August 2014. <>


  • ‘La violence par procuration: les Britanniques dans la guerra Mau Mau du Kenya.’ In Histoire des colonisations européennes (XIXe-XXe siècles): sociétés, cultures, politiques, Amaury Lorin et Christelle Taraud (dir.), 172-193. (Paris: presses universitaires de France, coll. ‘Le Noeud gordien’, 2013).
  • (with Gabrielle Lynch), ‘Democratization and ethnic violence in Kenya: electoral cycles and shifting identities’, in Democratization and Ethnic Minorities: Conflict or Compromise?, eds J. Bertrand & O. Haklai, 56-73. (London: Routledge, 2013)
  • (with Nic Cheeseman), ‘An Introduction to African Politics’, in The Routledge Handbook on African Politics, edited by Nic Cheeseman, David M. Anderson & Andrea Scheibler, 1-9. (London: Routledge, 2013)


  • ‘British abuse and torture in Kenya’s counter-insurgency, 1952-60.’ Small Wars & Insurgencies 23, iv (2012): 700-719.
  • (with Hannah Elliott, Hassan Hussein Kochore & Emma Lochery), ‘Camel herders, middlewomen, and urban milk bars: the commodification of camel milk in Kenya.’ Journal of Eastern African Studies 6, iii (2012): 385-402.
  • ‘Clan identity and Islamic identity in Somalia.’ CEADS 2 (March 2012): 2-37.

before 2012

  • ‘Mau Mau in the High Court and the ‘lost’ British empire archives: colonial conspiracy, or bureaucratic bungle?’ Journal of Imperial & Commonwealth History 39, v (2011): 699-716.
  • (with Adrian Browne), ‘The politics of oil in eastern Africa.’ Journal of Eastern African Studies 5, ii (2011): 369-412.
  • ‘Punishment, race and ‘the raw native’: settler society and Kenya’s flogging scandals, 1895-1930.’ Journal of Southern African Studies 37, iii (2011): 479-498.
  • (with Neil Carrier), ‘Khat in the UK: social harms and legislation.’ Home Office Research Report (July 2011): 39pp.
  • ‘Sexual threat and settler society: black perils in Kenya, c.1907-1930.’ Journal of Imperial & Commonwealth History 38 i (2010): 47-74.
  • ‘The new piracy: the local context.’ Survival 52 i (2010): 44-50.
  • ‘Majimboism: the troubled history of an idea.’ In Our Turn to Eat! Politics in Kenya since 1950, eds Daniel Branch, Nic Cheeseman & Leigh Gardner, 23-52 (Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2010).
  • ‘The Kenyan cattle trade and the economics of empire, 1914-1948.’ In Healing the Herds: Disease, Livestock Economies, and the Globalization of Veterinary Medicine, eds Karen Brown & Dan Gilfoyle, 250-68 (Athens OH: Ohio University Press, 2010).
  • ‘Somali piracy: historical context, political contingency.’ Working Paper 34, Centre for European Policy Studies (December 2009): 14pp.
  • (with Neil Carrier) ‘Khat in colonial Kenya: a history of prohibition and control.’ Journal of African History 50 iii (2009): 377-98.
  • (with Emma Lochery), ‘Violence and exodus in Kenya’s Rift Valley: predictable and preventable?’ Journal of Eastern African Studies 2, ii (2008): 328-43.
  • (with Huw Bennett and Daniel Branch), ‘A very British massacre.’ History Today (August, 2006): 20-22.
  • (with Neil Carrier), ‘Flowers of Paradise, or Polluting the Nation? Contested narratives of khat consumption.’ In Consuming Cultures, Global Perspectives: Historical Trajectories, Transnational Exchanges, eds John Brewer & Frank Trentmann (Oxford; Berg, 2006): 145-66.
  • ‘Surrogates of the state: collaboration and atrocity in Kenya’s Mau Mau War.’ In The Barbarisation of Warfare, ed George Kassimeris, 159-74 (London: Hurst, 2006).
  • ‘Burying the bones of the past.’ History Today (February, 2005): 2-3.
  • ‘“Yours in struggle for majimbo”: nationalism and the party politics of decolonisation in Kenya, 1955 to 1964.’ Journal of Contemporary History 39 (July 2005): 547-64.
  • ‘Registration and rough justice: labour law in Kenya, 1895-1939.’ In Masters, Servants, and Magistrates in Britain and the Empire, 1562-1955, eds Paul Craven & Douglas Hay, 422-54 (Chapel Hill NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2004).
  • ‘Massacre at Ribo Post: expansion and expediency on the colonial frontier in East Africa.’ International Journal of African Historical Studies 35 (2004): 33-54.
  • ‘Le declin et la chute de la KANU: la recomposition des parties politiques dans la succession de Moi (Kenya).’ Politique africaine 90 (June 2003): 37-55.
  • (with Herve Maupeu) ‘Kenya, la succession de Moi.’ Politique africaine 90 (June 2003): 5-16.
  • ‘Kenya’s elections 2002 – the dawning of a new era?’ African Affairs 102 (2003): 331-42.
  • ‘Mau Mau at the movies: contemporary representations of an anti-colonial war.’ South African Historical Journal 48 (May 2003): 33-51.
  • ‘Vigilantes, violence and the politics of public order in Kenya.’ African Affairs 101 (2002): 531-55.
  • ‘Corruption at City Hall: African housing and urban development in colonial Nairobi.’ Azania 36/37 (2001): 138-54. [Reprinted in Andrew Burton (ed), The Urban Experience in Eastern Africa c.1750-2000 (Nairobi: BIEA, 2002): 138-54].
  • ‘The battle of Dandora swamp: reconstructing Mau Mau’s Land & Freedom Army.’ In Mau Mau and Nationhood: Arms, Authority and Memory, eds E.S. Atieno Odhiambo & John Lonsdale, 155-77 (Oxford: James Currey, 2002).
  • ‘Rehabilitation, resettlement and restocking: ideology and practice in pastoralist development.' In The Poor Are Not Us: Poverty and Pastoralism in Eastern Africa, eds David M. Anderson & Vigdis Broch-Due, 201-19 (Oxford: James Currey, 2002).
  • (with Vigdis Broch-Due). ‘Poverty and the pastoralist: deconstructing myths, reconstructing realities.’ In The Poor Are Not Us: Poverty and Pastoralism in Eastern Africa, eds David M. Anderson & Vigdis Broch-Due, 1-23 (Oxford: James Currey, 2002).
  • ‘Master and servant in colonial Kenya, 1895-1939.’ Journal of African History 41 iii (2000): 435-70.
  • (with Richard Rathbone). ‘Urban Africa: histories in the making.’ In Africa's Urban Past, eds David M. Anderson & Richard Rathbone, 1-17 (Oxford: James Currey, 1999).
  • ‘History of Africa’ and ‘Twentieth Century Africa.’ In The Oxfam Literacy Guide to Good Reading (Oxford: Helicon Publishing, 1996).
  • ‘Visions of the vanquished: prophecy and colonialism in Kenya’s Western Highlands.’ In Revealing Prophets: Prophecy and History in Eastern Africa, eds David M. Anderson & Douglas H. Johnson, 164-95 (London: James Currey, 1996).
  • ‘East Africa, 20th Century.’ In American Historical Association Guide to Historical Literature, ed Mary Beth Norton, 590-95 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).
  • (with Douglas H. Johnson). ‘Revealing Prophets.’ In David M. Anderson & Douglas H. Johnson (eds.), Revealing Prophets: Prophecy and History in Eastern Africa, 1-27 (London: James Currey, 1996).
  • (with Rosemary Seton). ‘Archives and manuscript collections relating to Africa held at SOAS.’ History in Africa 22 (1995): 45-60.
  • ‘Policing the settler state: Kenya, 1900-52.’ In Contesting Colonial Hegemony: State & Society in Africa & India, eds Dagmar Engels & Shula Marks, 248-66 (London: Academic Press, 1994).
  • ‘Black mischief: crime, protest and resistance in Kenya's Western Highlands, 1890s-1963.’ The Historical Journal 36 (1993): 851-77.
  • ‘Transitions between cultivation and pastoralism: comment on East African examples.’ Current Anthropology 34, iv (1993): 372-73.
  • ‘Cow power: livestock and pastoralism in Africa.' African Affairs 92 (1993): 121-33.
  • ‘Crisis of capitalism and Kenya’s social history.’ African Affairs 92 (1993): 285-90.
  • ‘Policing and communal conflict: the Cyprus Emergency, 1954-60.' In Policing & Decolonisation: Nationalism, Politics & the Police, eds David M. Anderson & David Killingray, 187-217 (Manchester: Manchester university Press, 1992). [Reprinted in Journal of Imperial & Commonwealth History 21 (1993): 177-207; and in Globalising British Policing , ed Georgina Sinclair (London: Ashgate, 2011).
  • (with David Killingray). ‘An orderly retreat? Policing the end of Empire.' In Policing & Decolonisation: Nationalism, Politics & the Police, eds David M. Anderson & David Killingray, 1-21 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992).
  • (with Douglas H. Johnson). ‘Diviners, seers and spirits in East Africa: toward an historical anthropology.' Africa 61 (1991): 293-8.
  • ‘Policing, prosecution and the law in colonial Kenya, 1905-39.' In Policing the Empire: Government, Authority & Control, 1830-1940, eds David M. Anderson & David Killingray 183-200 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1991).
  • (with David Killingray). ‘Consent, coercion and control: policing the Empire, 1830-1940.' In David M. Anderson & David Killingray (eds.), Policing the Empire: Government, Authority & Control, 1830-1940, eds David M. Anderson & David Killingray, 1-15 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1991).
  • ‘Agriculture and irrigation at Lake Baringo in the 19th century.' Azania, 24 (1989): 85-98.
  • (with David Throup). ‘Agrarian economy of Central Province, Kenya, 1918-39.' In The Economies of Africa & Asia in Inter-War Depression, ed Ian Brown, 8-28 (London: Routledge, 1989. [Reprinted 2014].
  • ‘Cultivating pastoralists: economy & ecology among Il Chamus of Baringo, 1840-1980.' In Ecology of Survival: Case Studies from Northeast African History, eds David M. Anderson & Douglas H. Johnson, 241-60 (London & Boulder CO: Lester Crook & Westview Press, 1989).
  • (with Douglas H. Johnson). ‘Ecology & society in Northeast African history.' In Ecology of Survival: Case Studies from Northeast African History, eds David M. Anderson & Douglas H. Johnson, 1-24 (London & Boulder CO: Lester Crook & Westview Press, 1989).
  • (with Andrew Millington). ‘Political ecology of soil conservation in Anglo-phone Africa.' In African Resources: Appraisal, Monitoring & Management, eds A.C. Millington, A. Binns & S. Mutiso, 48-59 (Reading Geographical Papers Series, 1989).
  • (with William M. Adams). ‘Irrigation before development: indigenous & induced change in agricultural water management in East Africa.' African Affairs 87 (1988): 519-35 [reprinted in RM Saleth (ed), Water Resources and Economic Development (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2001)].
  • ‘Managing the forest: conservation history of Lembus, Kenya, 1900-63.' In Conservation in Africa: People, Policies & Practice, eds David M. Anderson & Richard Grove, 249-68 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).
  • (with Richard Grove). ‘Scramble for Eden: past, present & future in African conservation.' In Conservation in Africa: People, Policies & Practice, eds David M. Anderson & Richard Grove, 1-12 (CUP: Cambridge, 1987). [Reprinted in The Sociology of the Environment, vol III, eds Michael Reclift & Graham Woodgate, 216-227 (E. Elgar: Cheltenham, 1994)].
  • ‘Stock theft and moral economy in colonial Kenya.' Africa 56 (1986): 399-416.
  • (with David Throup). ‘Africans & agricultural production in colonial Kenya: the myth of the war as a watershed.' Journal of African History 26 (1985): 327-45.
  • ‘Depression, dust bowl, demography and drought: the colonial state and soil conservation in East Africa during the 1930s.’ African Affairs 83 (1984): 321-43. [Reprinted in Colonial Epoch in Africa: Colonialism & Nationalism, vol 2, ed Greg Maddox, 209-32 (New York: Garland, 1993).
  • ‘The 19th century history of Il Chamus of Baringo.’ Mila, Bulletin of the Institute of African Studies (Nairobi), no.7 (1984): 107-25.