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Periodical article Periodical article
Title:Forest Imageries and Political Practice in Colonial Coastal Kenya
Author:Bresnahan, D.
Periodical:Journal of Eastern African Studies
Geographic term:Kenya
Subjects:History - colonial
Mijikenda - ethnic group
Abstract:This article explores the transforming meanings of kaya forests in coastal Kenya during first half of the twentieth century. It focuses on the deployment of the kaya-indicating lowland coastal forests with a linguistic connotation of “home” - as discursive tool in the political practices of elder Mijikenda men in their interactions with the colonial state. From the mid-nineteenth- to early-twentieth century, kaya forests were assigned a variety of meanings, including as historical settlements, ancestral graveyards, and ritual sites. By the late-colonial period, the forests and forest authorities - or kaya elders - were central categories of political practice on the Kenya coast. The article argues that elder Mijikenda men and colonial officials generated novel ideas about the significance of the kaya forests as they collaborated to establish bodies of legitimate authority and demarcate lands for colonial forestry projects and development schemes. In the process, they reworked and standardized the meanings attached the forest groves which became a setting for - and symbols of - political action. (Journal Abstract).