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Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership - Student Profiles




Between 2014 - 2017 I completed an undergraduate history degree at the University of York. It was whilst studying abroad at the University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign during my second year that I first heard of Mau Mau. This colonial conflict in Kenya from 1952 – 1960 became the subject of my undergraduate dissertation, which re-examined the life and writings of Louis Leakey to critique historian’s understanding of the relationship between science and imperialism.

After reading Leakey’s assertions about the role of Christianity and the ‘Mau Mau Religion’, I became interested in the significance of faith during Mau Mau, and wanted to explore the issue further whilst studying for an MPhil in World History at Wolfson College, Cambridge. It soon became the core of my masters dissertation, which focused on the role of Church Missionary Society during the conflict up to 1955.

This project evolved into my PhD thesis, which focuses on Anglicanism during the Mau Mau Conflict and its impact on Kenya’s political, social, and cultural decolonisation. It aims to explore how the Anglican faith helped people negotiate and shape the emergency’s trajectory, an appreciation of which critical to understanding the Kenyan nation-state today. It will show how this body, consistently undervalued in the conflict’s historiography, faced both unique challenges and common experiences during Mau Mau. At times this meant the Anglican faith was able to play an instrumental role in influencing the emergency’s outcomes, whilst in other periods and contexts Anglicanism was a disempowered entity, vulnerable to manipulation by third parties. Although this thesis will primarily use ecclesiastical and state documents to inform its narrative, it insists on a broad definition of Anglicanism to include spirituality outside of church institutions. This enables this research to consider Anglicanism’s structured and spontaneous aspects in a single analytical frame, producing an account which is tensile and closer to the experiences of the everyday.

More broadly, I am interested in the history of Christianity in Africa, particularly surrounding the issues of confession, conversion, and martyrdom, as well as colonial psychiatry and definitions of madness. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to continue my research as a member of Girton College.


Department: History
Supervisor: Professor David Maxwell
College: Girton
AHRC Subject Area: History
Title of Thesis: Anglicanism, the Mau Mau Conflict and Decolonisation in Kenya, 1952 - 1960