Unwanted in the 'white highlands' : the politics of civil society and the making of a refugee in Kenya, 1902-2002 / by Peter Mwangi Kagwanja.
This is a study of refugees as a social category of people who have fled their country of citizenship in search of safety. The study examines the generations of refugees who sought asylum in Kenya between 1902 and 2002. The study examines the genealogies and experiences of Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe; Jewish refugees from Nazi Europe; Polish refugees during World War II; Ethiopians fleeing Fascist Italy's occupation of Ethiopia, refugees produced by decolonization and post-colonial waves of refugee from other African regions. It makes a simple argument that: Humanitarianism played a part, but the management of refugees in the twentieth century Kenya was a racial and ethnic act. The study links refugees to the emergence and development of civil society and the related concept of public sphere in colonial and post-colonial Kenya. Conceiving refugees as objects of restrictive policies of the asylum states and as subjects of management and control by agencies and voluntary organizations, the study examines civil society in Kenya as a veritable site where refugees were defined and categorized and policies about them constructed and contested. The experience of refugees was inextricably linked to the animation of racial and ethnic identities in the construction and defense of racial and ethnic power, prestige and privileges under the colonial and successor states. Besides drawing a genealogical connection between colonial and post-colonial refugees, the study also demonstrates how Africa's refugee crisis was integrally linked to the worldwide refugee problem in the first half of the turbulent twentieth century. Situating ordinary refugees analytically at the center of ‘African crisis,’ the study highlights their agency and diverse strategies and technologies of coping with the challenges of exile. The study draws from a vast array of sources from archival information, visual images and films to interviews with ordinary refugees, careful reading of their memoirs, articles, letters, photographs and paintings.
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