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Race and EmpireEugenics in Colonial Kenya$
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Chloe Campbell

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780719071607

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719071607.001.0001

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Introduction: Nellie's dance

Introduction: Nellie's dance

(p.1) Chapter 1 Introduction: Nellie's dance
Race and Empire

Chloe Campbell

Manchester University Press

An aristocratic farmer-settler, ‘Nellie’ Grant, went to a ball and had a sit-out with Reverend Wright, and their conversation turned to some of the big issues of the day, religion and eugenics. Recent histories of eugenics in non-English speaking regions and comparative studies of eugenics in different countries have widened the understanding of eugenic thought. This chapter discusses the idea of empire as a cultural system through which thoughts and practices were exchanged and modified. It shows how eugenics and imperialism—two major forces in early twentieth-century cultural history—were intimately connected and how eugenics served as a scientific bulwark that fortified the ideology of imperialism. This study sheds light on the colonial mentalité and the complex ideological layers and affinities that rather uneasily merged to form a science that could defend the racial system upon which the Kenyan colonial state rested. It reveals how eugenics was intellectual ballast for the ideology of British imperialism.

Keywords:   Nellie Grant, religion, eugenics, British imperialism, colonial mentalité

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