Postsettlers: Josh Doble, White settlers to white Africans? Decolonization and white identity in Kenya and Zambia, PhD dissertation, University of Leeds, 2019

15Feb20

Abstract: This thesis addresses the identities of ‘white settlers’ who chose to stay in Kenya and Zambia after independence from British rule. By focusing on these racially and materially privileged minority groups this thesis unearths the ways in which racial identities have been formed and contested, in contexts in which whiteness has been inescapably historically charged. By analysing both Kenya and Zambia the thesis breaks new ground in comparing the postcolonial history of a settler colony and an African protectorate. In doing so it raises questions about the categorisations of ‘settler’ and the notion of being ‘settled’, as well as taking on the difficult label of ‘white African’ and its contested use in postcolonial Africa. This research draws upon settler colonial history in Africa and contemporary whiteness studies. As such the thesis represents a social history of decolonisation and a history of a contemporary phenomenon, whites with a colonial heritage searching for belonging and legitimacy in postcolonial contexts which invalidate their history. The thesis traces the legacies of settler colonial rule through the spatial, sensorial, linguistic and temporal dimensions of whites’ postcolonial lives. Research participants all drew upon a personal colonial lineage which connected their families to the longer colonial history of Kenya and Zambia. They represented a group of people whose life experiences mapped onto the historical ‘period’ of decolonisation. The timeframe of the thesis – from the mid-1950s to 2017 – utilises a periodisation which transcends the bounds of colonialism and postcolonialism, and as a result is able to assess continuity and change in how racial identity and privilege was constructed and reconfigured. The thesis’ originality lies not only in its comparative study of under-researched postcolonial whites, but in its synthesis of whiteness studies, settler colonial history, postcolonial history, the history of emotions and senses, and oral history.



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