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date: 31 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter analyzes political violence in Kenya from the late nineteenth century to the 1960s. In a study of the “pacification campaigns” conducted by the Imperial British East Africa Company against the Kikuyu and Nandi communities at the turn of the twentieth century, the chapter describes the use of spectacular violence on both sides. It then offers an explanation for why there were no major outbursts of political violence during the Kenyan colonial regime. Finally, it analyzes the internal struggle in post‒World War II Kenya known as the “Mau Mau Emergency,” which has conventionally been characterized as a nationalist uprising but which was in fact a Kikuyu civil war that had the effect of a neo-pacification campaign. The chapter thus calls into question basic assumptions about powerless nonstate actors and a powerful state, inviting a reevaluation of these ideas by scholars of terrorism.

Keywords: Kenya, Mau Mau, Kikuyu, Nandi, terrorism, Imperial British East Africa Company

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