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Durham e-Theses
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‘Kenya is no doubt a special case’:British policy towards Kenya, 1960-1980

CULLEN, CATRIONA,POPPY (2015) ‘Kenya is no doubt a special case’:British policy towards Kenya, 1960-1980. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis examines the ways British policy towards Kenya was made from 1960 to 1980 – from the last years of British colonial rule and through the first two decades of Kenya’s existence as an independent state. Despite the late colonial traumas of Mau Mau, relationships between the British government and the new government of Kenya were very close. British officials actively pursued influence, and a combination of multiple and overlapping interests and a dense network of relationships encouraged British politicians, civil servants and diplomats to place a high value on this relationship, coming to describe it as ‘special’.
The thesis examines how ‘policy’ was made, and argues that this emerged from numerous decisions taken by individuals at multiple levels, informed by ‘habits of thought’ as well as a general understanding of British interests which was shared – despite some rivalries and tensions between UK government departments. British attitudes were also shaped by misunderstandings and prejudices. Kenya, by contrast, was emerging as a neo-patrimonial state. This thesis examines how these systems interacted with one another and recognises the clear difference: British officials worked within a bureaucratic system in a way which gave their decisions a coherence and consistency; Kenya’s elite pursued personal and factional interests. Even so, the British reinforced Kenyan neo-patrimonialism by working with individuals rather than through official channels.
The thesis argues that, despite the disparity in structure and form, this was a negotiated relationship. Leading Kenyans were often adept at using the British relationship to their particular advantage and were able to influence and shape British decisions in ways which complicate any simple neo-colonial analysis. The relationship remained close because British interests and those of leading Kenyans came to align on crucial issues, ensuring a continued mutual interest in the relationship.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > History, Department of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:17 Jun 2015 14:22

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