Creative Writing (Social History of Africa Series): Translation, Bookkeeping, and the Work of Imagination in Colonial Kenya / Edition 1

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This book challenges the conventions that undergird the academic study of literature. Where literary scholars' method separates the book from its readership, Creative Writing explores how different kinds of texts were interpreted, used, and recomposed in real-life political discourse. Where social historians often disparage the study of literature as an elitist occupation, Peterson demonstrates how ordinary people used texts to act creatively in their own world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This is without a doubt one of the most important contributions to the historiography of colonial Africa....Here for the first time we have a concrete history of how one African people (the Northern Gikuyu) engaged colonialism in its own terms, adopted its tactics to their emergent needs, and appropriated its resources to secure an independent modern polity...Peterson brings new insights and methodologies to force us to rethink colonial history beyond the seductive binaries that have traditionally defined it and to dramatize the contradictory impulses that drove local agents as they sought to become both Gikuyu and modern. This is a great story, told with passion and flavor, and full of brilliant insights.”–Simon Gikandi, Professor of English Language and Literature, The University of Michigan

“Peterson's command of the Gikuyu language, no less than of historical method and literary theory, ensures that Creative Writing deepens our understanding of colonial African history on several different fronts. He shows, above all, that there was less a literate, hegemonic, 'colonial encounter' with oral tradition than an engagement between internal African polemicists and the missionary bringers of a new grammar of debate....With this book colonial African history becomes altogether more interesting.”–John Lonsdale Fellow of Trinity College Cambridge University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780325071312
  • Publisher: Heinemann
  • Publication date: 1/20/2004
  • Series: Social History of Africa Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Derek R. Peterson is assistant professor of history at The College of New Jersey, Ewing, New Jersey.
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Table of Contents


Preface and Acknowledgements

Introduction: Texts and Contexts

Colonialism and Comparative Religion in Gikuyuland

The Word in Translation: Generational Politics after the First World War

Making and Unmaking the Gikuyu: Imagined Community and Local History in the 1920s

Writing Gikuyu: The Politics of Orthography and Grammar

Contracting Colonialism: English, Bureaucracy, and Political Theory in Independent Schooling

Wordy Women: Gender Trouble and Oral Politics in the East African Revival

Writing in Revolution: Bureaucracy, Unity, and Sovereignty in Mau Mau

Ngugi's Compositions in Gikuyu

Conclusion: Writing and the Work of Imagination

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