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Working Paper Title: Ordered and disordered colonial history: Using the oral histories of white British women of colonial east Africa

Number: 5/06

Author: Annie Bramley


This paper is work in progress based on my PhD research, which takes a narrative approach to different representations of history. It is about my use of oral histories in research, and these are of white British women who lived in east Africa prior to independence. These women mostly lived in Kenya, however I have also spoken with women who lived in Uganda, Northern Rhodesia, which is now Zambia and Nyasaland, which is now Malawi, however they are all now living in Britain. They are aged between 60 and 90, depending on when their experience of east Africa started; some of them were born there, some went out to work, and some made the journey with their husbands. In this paper then, I want to discuss some of the problems and ideas that have come out of my use of these oral histories alongside other historical documents. In particular, I am concerned with the ways that histories are recorded at a certain time and how these different representations of past events may conflict with the memories of people they represent. This is where the ordered and disordered element of colonial history comes in.