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Professor John Lonsdale

Departments and Institutes

Trinity College:

Other Professional Activities

Recent Invited Talks

1995    German African Studies Association Annual Meeting: keynote lecture on
            ethnicities and nationalisms.

1996    University of Louvain la Neuve, Belgium: keynote talk to Erasmus-Socrates
            training course on historical research in Africa.

1997    Humboldt University, Berlin: public lecture on 'Jomo, God, & the Modern

2001    Maseno & Nairobi Universities, Kenya: public lecture on 'Freedom without
            Kenyatta: British policy in Kenya's decolonisation.'

2001    Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History at Tulane University, New Orleans: lecture on 'Violence in Freedom Struggles: Mau Mau'.

2001    Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario: invited talk on 'Moral & political
            argument in Kenya 1945-2000' at conference on ethnicity & democracy.

2002    Annual Distinguished Lecturer on Africa, University of Ghent: 'African
            biography and African history'.

2002    Royal African Society Annual General Meeting, keynote lecture.  'Kenyatta,
            Kikuyu and Kenya'.

2002    Royal College of Defence Studies.  'Society & security in eastern Africa'.

2004    Oxford University, Annual Lecture on Africa: ‘Kenyatta and the Nation’.

2004    IFRA/British Institute, Nairobi: ‘Religion and politics in Kenya’

2005    (January) Three Henry Martyn Lectures in the Faculty of Divinity,
            Cambridge University: 'Religion and Politics in Kenya: Foundations,
            Conflicts, Questions'.

            (5 July) Keynote lecture at the AEGIS pan-European African Studies Conference at SOAS: ‘African Studies, Europe and Africa’.

2006    (February): Inaugural lecture for the Oxford University African Studies
            Network:  ‘Competitive patriotisms in East Africa: Lessons from the Colonial

2007    (June): ‘How Kenyatta faced up to Mount Kenya’ for University of Basel (Switzerland) lecture series on great books about Africa.

2008    (February): ‘The crisis in Kenya’, for Réseau Européen d’Analyse des Sociétes Politiques, at Université de Paris 1: Sorbonne-Panthéon.

2009    (February): Leçon inaugurale, Cycle européen d'études africaines, at  Université de Paris 1.

            (February): Second Annual Thomas Hodgkin lecture before the University of Oxford: ‘Nationalism in Colonial Africa’.

            (September) ‘Historical Method’: at University of Wyoming, at Laramie.

2010    (January) ‘African historiography’: ‘debate’ with Jean-François Bayart, at   ‘Lutter dans les Afriques indociles’ conference at Université de Paris 1.

            (February) ‘What if anything is wrong with Africa?’ University of the Third  Age, Cambridge.

(April) member of Round Table plenary discussion on ‘African independence 50 years after’, at German African Studies Association annual meeting, at         Johannes Gutenberg Universitat, Mainz.

            (April) ‘Mau Mau Nation or Immigrant Nation?  The Politics of National    Memory in Kenya’, lecture at the same conference.

2011    (February) ‘Jomo Kenyatta, ethnicity, and nation-building’ for Curso Africa, University of Madrid.

            (April) ‘The Debate on British Decolonisation in Africa’, University of Tel Aviv.

2012    (November) ‘What if anything is wrong with Africa’ and ‘Teaching national history for a divided new nation’ at University of Kobe, Japan.

2013    (April) ‘African nationalism and imperial revolution’ at the London School of Economics and Politics.

2014    (March) ‘Kenya’s Seven Ages of Ethnciity’, at University of Cape Town / SALDRU Conference on Social Cohesion in South Africa’

Key Publications


Numbered in sequence of publication


35)       1992  (with Bruce Berman) Unhappy Valley: conflict in Kenya and Africa
                        (James Currey, London).  Book I is republished articles; Book II
                        contains my own `Moral Economy of Mau Mau', pp. 265-504.

Edited Books

10)       1975  Three Aspects of Crisis in Colonial Kenya (Eastern Africa Series 21:
                        Syracuse University, New York), xxiii + 91 pp. With Introduction,
                        'On the periodisation of Kenya's colonial history' pp. v-xxiii

25)       1987 (a) South Africa in Question, (Currey, London; Heinemann, Portsmouth
                        NH), x + 244 pp.  (My Introduction, pp. 1-12).

63)       2003 (a) (with Atieno Odhiambo) Mau Mau and Nationhood: Arms, Authority
                        & Narration
(James Currey, Oxford; EAEP, Nairobi; Ohio UP, Athens
                        OH), xvi + 307pp.  With Introduction.

77)       2009 (b) Writing for Kenya: The Life and Works of Henry Muoria, (with Wangari Muoria-Sal, Bodil Folke Frederiksen & Derek Peterson     (Brill:   Leiden) pp. xi + 409.

83)       2011 (b) (with Edward Stourton) Trinity, a Portrait (Third Millennium                                International, London) pp. 1 + 261.

85)       2012 (b) (with Hiroyuki Hino, Gustav Ranis & Frances Stewart) Ethnic                              Diversity and Economic Instability in Africa (Cambridge University                Press), xvii + 335.

91)       2014 (in press): Foreword and editorial notes for S. H. Fazan, Colonial       Kenya: British rule, Mau Mau and the winds of change (London: I. B. Tauris).


Articles and Chapters

1)         1968 (a) 'Some origins of nationalism in East Africa', Jl.African History 9: 

2)         (b) 'The emergence of African nations', African Affairs 266: 11-28

3)         (c) 'The Tanzanian Experiment', African Affairs 269: 330-44

4)         (d) 'European attitudes and African pressures: Missions & government in
                        Kenya between the wars', Race 10: 141-51

5)         1969  'Local origins of nationalist politics in western Kenya', in Autonomy &
                        Dependence in Parochial Politics
(London, Institute of
                        Commonwealth Studies, Collected Seminar Papers No.7), 76-91.

6)         1970  'Political associations in western Kenya', in Protest and Power in Black
, eds R Rotberg & A Mazrui (OUP, New York), 589-638.

7)         1971 (a) 'Rural resistance & mass political mobilisation among the Luo of
                        western Kenya', in Mouvements nationaux d'Independance et Classes
, ed R Bureau (Paris: Commission internationale d'histoire
                        des mouvements sociaux & des structures sociales), 459-78.

8)         (b) 'Policies for rural employment', in Prospects for employment opportunities
                        in the 1970s
  eds R E Robinson & P Johnston (HMSO), 150-56.

9)         (c) 'Recent histories' of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, pp. 413-15, 818-21, 857-
                        59 in Africa South of the Sahara  (Europa Publications, London).

11)       (b) (with M G Whisson) 'The case of Jason Gor & Fourteen Others: a Luo
                        succession dispute in historical perspective', Africa 14: 50-66.

12)       1976 (with D A Low) 'Towards the new order 1945-1963', in History of East
iii, eds D A Low & A Smith (Clarendon Press, Oxford), 1-64.

13)       1977 (a) 'When did the Gusii (or any other group) become a tribe?'
                        Kenya Historical Review 5: 123-33.

14)       (b) 'The politics of conquest: the British in western Kenya 1895-1908',
                        Historical Journal 20: 841-70.

15)       1978 (with S Booth-Clibborn & A Hake) 'The emerging pattern of church
                        and state co-operation in Kenya', in Christianity in Independent Africa 
                        eds. E Fashole-Luke et al (Rex Collings, London), 267-84.

16)       1979 (with B J Berman) 'Coping with contradictions: the development of the
                        colonial state in Kenya 1895-1914', Jl. African Hist 20: 487-505.

17)       1981 (a) 'State and peasantry in colonial Africa', in People's History &
                        Socialist Theory
, ed Raphael Samuel (Routledge, London), 106-17.

18)       (b) 'States & social processes in Africa: An historiographical survey',
                        African Studies Review 24: 139-225.

19)       1983 'From colony to industrial state: South African historiography seen
                        from England', Social Dynamics (Cape Town) 9:  67-83.

20)       1985 'The European scramble & conquest in African history', ch 12 in
                        Cambridge History of Africa, 6: 1870-1905, eds R Oliver & G N
                        Sanderson (Cambridge UP), 680-766.

21)       1986 (a) 'The depression & the second world war in the transformation of
                        Kenya', in Africa & the Second World War, eds D Killingray &
                        R Rathbone (Macmillan, London), 97-142.

22)       (b) 'Political accountability in African history', in Political domination in
  ed P Chabal (Cambridge UP), 126-57.

23)       (c) 'Explanations of the Mau Mau revolt’, in Resistance & Ideology in Settler
, ed T Lodge (Ravan, Johannesburg), 168-78.

24)       (d) 'Mau Mau through the looking-glass' Index on Censorship 15: 19-22.

26)       1987 (b) 'Conservation and development', in Conservation in Africa,
                        eds D M Anderson & R Grove (Cambridge UP), 271-5.

27)       (c) 'La pensée politique des Kikuyu et les ideologies du Mau-mau',
                        Cahiers d'études africaines 27: 329-357.

28)       1989 (a) 'The conquest state of Kenya', in J de Moor & H Wesseling (eds)
                        Colonial Warfare (Brill, Leiden), 87-120.

29)       (b) 'African pasts in Africa's future', in C. Fyfe (ed) African Futures
                        (Centre of African Studies, Edinburgh University), 31-70.

30)       (c) 'State and markets in colonial Kenya: Two studies in ambiguity',
                        in E. Linnebuhr (ed) Transition & Continuity in East Africa and
(African Studies Series, University of Bayreuth), 303-20.

31)       (d) 'The empire on the Nile', and 'The scramble for Africa', in C.A. Bayly
                        (ed), Atlas of the British Empire (Toucan Books, London), 137-46.

32)       1990  (a)`Mau Maus of the Mind: making Mau Mau and remaking Kenya',
                        Jl. African Hist 31, 393-421.

33)       (b) Foreword', pp. xi-xvi, to Marshall Clough, Fighting Two Sides: Kenyan
                        chiefs and politicians 1918-1940
(University Press of Colorado).

34)       1991  (with B Berman), `Louis Leakey's Mau Mau: a study in the politics of
                        knowledge', History and Anthropology 5: 143-204.

36)       (b)  'The political culture of Kenya', in Centre of African Studies, Edinburgh,
                        Occasional Papers No. 37 , 1-19.

37)       1993  'Staatsgewalt und moralische ordnung: Die erfindung des tribalismus
                        in Afrika', Der Uberblick: Zeitschrift  fur okumenische Begegnung &
                        internationale Zuzammenarbeit
  3/93 (Hamburg), 5-10.

38)       1994 'Moral ethnicity & political tribalism' in P Kaarsholm & J Hultin (eds)
                        Inventions & boundaries: historical & anthropological approaches to
                        ethnicity & nationalism
(IDS Roskilde Occasional Paper 11), 131-50. 

39)       1995  (a) 'The prayers of Waiyaki: Political uses of the Kikuyu past': in
                        D M Anderson & D Johnson (eds), Revealing Prophets: prophecy in
                        East African History
(James Currey, London), 240-91.

40)       (b) 'Preface,' pp vii-viii, to Tom Askwith, From Mau Mau to Harambee
                        (Cambridge African Monographs No. 17).

41)       1996    (a) '"Listen while I read": the orality of Christian literacy in the young
                        Kenyatta's making of the Kikuyu,' in Louise de la Gorgendiere et al
                        (eds), Ethnicity in Africa: Roots, meanings & implications
                        (Centre of Afrn Studies, Edinburgh), 17-53.

42)       (b) 'Moral ethnicity, ethnic nationalism and political tribalism: the case of the
                        Kikuyu,' in Peter Meyns (ed), Staat und gesellschaft in Afrika
                        (Lit, Hamburg), 93-106. 

43)       1997    'Foreword,' pp. xvi-xxx, to Greet Kershaw, Mau Mau from below
                        (James Currey, Oxford)

44)       1998  (a) 'Conclusion: South Africa in African history,' in R Greenstein (ed),
                        Comparative Perspectives on South Africa (Macmillan), 287-305.

45)       (b) (with B Berman)  'The labors of Muigwithania: Jomo Kenyatta as author,
                        1928-45,'  Research in African Literatures  29:16-42.

46)       1999 (a)  'British East Africa', in Oxford History of the British Empire IV
                        eds. W R Louis & Judith Brown, (Oxford UP), 530-44.

47)       (b) 'Foreword', pp. v-viii, to John K Karanja, Founding an African faith:
                        Kikuyu Anglican Christianity 1900-1945
(Uzima Press, Nairobi).

48)       (c) 'Foreword' to Terence Gavaghan, Of lions and dungbeetles: A man in the
            middle of colonial administration in Kenya
  (Stockwell, Ilfracombe), 7-11.

49)       (d) 'Kikuyu Christianities', Jl of Religion in Africa, XXVIII, 4: 1-25.

50)       (e) ‘British colonial officials and the Kikuyu people’, in John Smith, ed.,
                        Administering Empire: The British Colonial Service in Retrospect
                        (University of London Press), 95-102.

51)       2000 (a) 'Kenyatta's trials: breaking and making an African nationalist', ch 10
                        in The moral world of the law, ed. Peter Coss (Cambridge UP for Past
                        & Present Society), 196-239.

52)       (b) 'Agency in tight corners: narrative and initiative in African history',
                        Editorial, pp. 5-16, in J Lonsdale's guest-edited issue of Jl of African
                        Cultural Studies
13, 1 in honour of Terence Ranger.

53)       (c) 'KAU's cultures: imaginations of community & constructions of leadership
                        in Kenya after the second world war' in (52), 107-25.

54)       (d) ‘African studies in the UK', African Studies Association of Australasia &
                        the Pacific: Review & Newsletter
XXII, 2: 13-20.

55)       2002 (a) 'Kikuyu Christianities: A history of intimate diversity'—extended
                        version of (49), ch 6 in D Maxwell & I Lawrie (eds), Christianity &
                        the African Imagination
  (Brill, Leiden), 157-97.

56)       (b) ‘Contests of time: Kikuyu historiography, old and new’, ch. 9 in
                        A Harneit-Sievers (ed.), A Place in the World: new local historiog­
                        raphies from Africa & S Asia
(Brill, Leiden), 201-54.

57)       (c) ‘Globalization, ethnicity, and democracy: a view from “the Hopeless
                        Continent”’, ch. 9 in A G Hopkins (ed.), Globalization in World
(Random House, London), 194-219.

58)       (d) ‘Mission Christianity & settler colonialism in eastern Africa’, ch. 15 in
                        H Hansen & M Twaddle (eds.), Christian Missionaries & the State in
                        the Third World
(Currey, Oxford), 194-211.

59)       (e) ‘Jomo Kenyatta, God, and the Modern World’, ch. 3 in J-G Deutsch et al
                        (eds.), African Modernities (Currey, Oxford & Heinemann,
                        Portsmouth NH), 31-65.

60)       (f) ‘Foreword’ to Gideon G Githiga, The Church as a Bulwark against
                        Authoritarianism in Kenya 1963-92
(Uzima Press, Nairobi), xi-xii.

61)       (g) ‘Town life in colonial Kenya’, in A Burton (ed.), The Urban Experience
                         in Eastern Africa
(British Institute, Nairobi), 207-22.

62)       (h) ‘Bethwell Ogot: The liberal jabilo’, in Toyin Falola & Atieno Odhiambo
                        (eds.), The Challenges of History & Leadership in Africa: The Essays
                        of Bethwell A Ogot
  (Africa World Press, Trenton, NJ), lxi-lxvi.

64)       2003 (b) ‘Authority, Gender & Violence: The War within Mau Mau’s Fight
            for Freedom’, ch 3 in 63 (Edited book, above) 34-72.

65)       (c) ‘Le cas Kenyan: un débat moral et politique’, Politique africaine 90: 17-36

66)       2004  ‘Moral and political argument in Kenya’, ch 5 in Bruce Berman et al
            (eds), Ethnicity and Democracy in Africa (James Currey & Ohio UP: Oxford
            & Athens OH), 73-95.

67)       2005  (a) (with C Elkins) ‘Ricordare i mau mau: conflitti di memoria nel
            kenya postcoloniale’, in Alessandro Triulzi (ed.), Dopo la violenzia:
            costruzioni di memoria nel mondo contemporaneo
(l’ancora: Napoli), 159-96.

68)       (b)  ‘A very British Gulag’, review article in The Times, Saturday Review, 8

69)       (c)  ‘Religion and Politics in Kenya’  Henry Martyn Lectures at 


70)       (d)  ‘”Listen while I read”: Patriotic Christianity among the Young Gikuyu’,          chapter 24 in Toyin Falola (ed.), Christianity and Social Change in Africa:   Essays in Honor of J D Y Peel (Durham NC: Carolina Academic Press), 563-  94.

71)       (e)  ‘African Studies, Europe and Africa’, Afrika Spectrum 40, 3: 377-402.

72)       2006: ‘Ornamental constitutionalism in Africa: Kenyatta and the Two Queens’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 34, 1: 87-104.

73)       2007: (with Bruce Berman) ‘Custom, modernity, and the search for Kihooto:  Kenyatta, Malinowski, and the making of Facing Mount Kenya’, chapter 6 in Helen Tilley, with Robert J Gordon (eds), Ordering Africa: Anthropology, European imperialism, and the politics of knowledge (Manchester and New    York: Manchester University Press): 173-98.

74)       2008 (a) ‘Britannia’s Mau Mau’, chapter 19 in Penultimate Adventures with Britannia, ed Wm Roger Louis (London: Tauris), 259-73.

75)       (b) ‘Soil, work, civilisation and citizenship in Kenya’, in Journal of Eastern African Studies 2, 2: 305-14.

76)       2009 (a) ‘Henry Muoria: public moralist’, Chapter 1, pp. 3-56 in Writing for Kenya: The Life and Works of Henry Muoria, co-edited with Wangari Muoria-Sal, Bodil Folke Frederiksen & Derek Peterson (Brill: Leiden).

78)       (b) ‘Writing Competitive Patriotisms in East Africa’, pp 251-677 in Derek Peterson and Giacomo Macola (eds), Recasting the Past: Historical Writing and Political Work in Twentieth-Century Africa (Athens OH: Ohio UP).

79)       (c) ‘Compromised Critics: Religion in Kenya’s Politics’, chapter 2 in Ben Knighton (ed) Religion and Politics in Kenya: Essays in honor of a meddlesome priest (New York: Palgrave Macmillan), 57-94.

80)       2010 (a) ‘Foreword’ (and index) to T. H. R. Cashmore, ‘Studies in District Administration in the East Africa Protectorate (1895-1918)’ (Cambridge African Studies Centre: Occasional Paper).

(81)      (b) ‘Kenya: Home County and African Frontier’, chapter 4 in Robert Bickers (ed.), Settlers and Expatriates: British communities overseas, pp. 74-111, (Oxford University Press).

(82)      2011 (a)  Dominique Connan and Johanna Siméant, ‘John Lonsdale, le nationalisme, l’ethnicité et léconomie morale: parcours d’un pionnier de l’histoire africaine’, Genèses 83 (Paris), 133-54. (Article by interview)

(84)      2012 (a) ‘Ethnic patriotism and markets in African History’, chapter 1 in Hiroyuki Hino (et al), (85) above, 19-55.

86)       2013 (a) ‘Anti-colonial nationalism and patriotism in Sub-Saharan Africa’, chapter 16 in John Breuilly (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Nationalism (Oxford University Press): 318-37.

87)       (b) (with Bruce Berman), ‘Nationalism in colonial and post-colonial Africa’, chapter 15 in Breuilly (ed.): 308-17.

88)       (c) ‘Kenya’s history from Cambridge by candlelight’, chapter 8 in William R. Ochieng’ (ed.), A History of Independent Kenya, 1963-2013 (Kisumu: Lake     Publishers), 237-71.

Forthcoming 2014

89)       ‘Did African nationalism continue imperialism’s world revolution by other means?’  For ASEN (LSE journal for the study of ethnicity and nationalism).

 (90)     ‘What if anything is wrong with Africa?’ (in Polish)

New editions & translations of previously published work

1970    'Nationalism & traditionalism in East Africa', pp. 379-89 in Problems in the
            History of Colonial Africa
, ed R O Collins (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs)
            [edited version of (1)].

1987    'The contradictions of the colonial state in Kenya', in The Political Economy
            of Law: a Third World Reader
, ed Y Ghai et al (OUP, New Delhi) [edited
            version of (16)].

1990    'Le passé de l'Afrique au secours de son avenir', Politique africaine  39 (Sept),
            pp. 135-154  [translation of (29)]

1992    'Towards the new order in East Africa 1945-63' (with D.A. Low), ch 7 in
            D A Low, Eclipse of Empire (CUP) [reprint of (12)]

1993    (a) 'Some origins of nationalism in East Africa' (1);
            (b) 'Mau Maus of the mind' (32), both in G Maddox et al (eds), Colonialism
            & nationalism in Africa
(Garland, NY)

1994    'Some origins of nationalism in East Africa' (1), in R O Collins (ed),
            Problems in African History II (Markus Wiener, NY)

1996    'Ethnicité morale et tribalisme politique', Politique africaine 61, 98-115
            [translation of revised (42)].

Other Publications