Tubman Talks: A Labor of Love? Self-Help and the Rise of Postcolonial Patronage Politics in Kenya

MoskowitzDr.Kara Moskowitz presents “A Labor of Love? Self-Help and the Rise of Postcolonial Patronage Politics in Kenya” on February 11, 2016 at the Harriet Tubman Institute from 2:30-4:00 p.m.

“A Labor of Love?” examines decolonizing self-help programs in rural Kenya. This talk focuses primarily on negotiations between rural Kenyans and Kenyan political elites over the financing of these local development projects. The paper argues that these negotiations produced new patron-client relationships, which deeply impacted Kenya’s postcolonial political culture and political practice. Kenyan state actors initially proposed self-help during decolonization to disburden the new government from providing the development programs Kenyans desired. Over time, however, Kenyan communities became disenchanted with the lack of state assistance. Individual politicians then began giving donations to self-help projects as a way of entering into new patron-client relationships with rural Kenyans. Self-help, then, contributed to an emerging form of postcolonial patronage in Kenya, one particularly marked by the blurring of state and civil society actors.

Brief Bio:

Kara Moskowitz is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. She specializes in modern African history, with a focus on East Africa, international development, and decolonization. She received a B.A. in History with Honors from Grinnell College, and both an M.A. and a Ph.D in African History from Emory University. Before coming to the University of Missouri – St. Louis, she received a Mellon Dissertation Fellowship in the Humanities in Original Sources to conduct archival and oral research in Kenya and the United Kingdom. Her teaching and research interests include African history, social history, rural history, transnational history, state-making, political culture, inequality, land, and the intersections of local and global historical processes. In her research, she looks in particular at how local negotiations over transnational development programs shaped states, citizenship, and political authority. She has published on these topics in The Journal of African History. She is currently working on a book examining the relationship between decolonization and development entitled, ‘The Government Is Us Now?’ Decolonization, Development, and the Making of Kenya (1945-80)


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