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Title: Women and colonialism : archival history and oral memory
Author: Bramley, Anne Frances
ISNI:       0000 0004 2677 6499
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2008
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Representations of Britain's colonial history have predominantly been 'official' ones, which tend to focus on well-documented administrative accounts and imply that one 'true' account of the past exists. More recently, white women's accounts have been incorporated, highlighting their participation in Britain's imperial adventure, particularly during and after the World Wars. East Africa provides the context in which this range of narratives will be explored: Its 'racial' hierarchies; its different designation of land as colonies, protectorates and territories; and its active white settler population in Kenya, which of necessity sought a place for its women, all contribute to its interesting past. This thesis first explores the range of historical representations surrounding Britain's colonial relationship with East Africa, and subsequently focuses on the portrayal of white women. This enables an exploration of the ways these women negotiated their positions in both private spheres, as was more commonly expected; but also in public ways that challenged discourses of femininity at the time. Their challenge became increasingly prevalent as greater numbers of women sought independence, the Empire being one place that enabled white women who went there to realise their 'modern' ambitions to 'civilise' and 'develop' the colonial world. These ambitions however, existed in tension with the oppressive nature of colonialism. If traditional historical accounts have stuck to the 'grand narratives' of colonial history, then turning to white women's oral histories reveals more complex historical narratives. These personal stories emphasise the divisions the women lived within and maintained, as well as demonstrating how myth has come to exist through their memories, now sustaining a colonial image of East Africa. Furthermore, these narratives provide challenging examples of how we can interpret the legacies of 'colonialism' in contemporary, 'postcolonial' realities. The contradictions they reveal hold powerful implications for the way that colonial history is represented in Britain today.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available