Control & Crisis in Colonial Kenya: The Dialectic of Domination

By Bruce Berman | Go to book overview

('totally dependent on new enterprises begun . . . under . . . the colonial government'; 'without bureaucracy there is no social justice,'), simply reinforced the involvement of the colonial authorities in the material interests of the African population. Moreover, the fact that 'progress' and 'civilization' were asserted as the objects and principal benefits of African consent and obedience meant that the legitimacy of the colonial state was tied to providing tangible social and economic improvements. The very content of the ideology of the Kenya Administration embroiled the colonial state in the contradictory material claims and aspirations developing in the colony.

The colonial state thus remained ideologically as well as structurally contained within the political economy of Kenya. The ideological insistence on the autonomy, impartiality and development of the state responded to and partially recognized and defined, but could not resolve, the central dilemmas of colonial administration: how to create and sustain the conditions for the development of settler estate production, to which the state was committed as the basis for the political economy of the colony, while at the same time providing a level of material benefits and protection against overt oppression and exploitation essential to maintain the legitimacy, or at the very least, tacit consent to colonial rule among the African population. How could the state be both autonomous and involved? The answer contained in the ideology and practice of the Administration was the disposition to increasing intervention, regulation, and control of all activities that were thought to affect the state and social order implemented through its fragmented, piecemeal reactions to crisis and conflict. The manner and degree to which this was accomplished during the interwar period and the effect on the development of both the state and the political economy of the colony are the subjects of the next two chapters.


Notes
1.
The Napoleonic reforms of the early 19th century, which created the French Corps of Prefects and gave this administrative apparatus its most common modern name, represented the culmination rather than the beginning of a long process of development. For historical and comparative perspectives on the development of prefectural administration see James Fesler, "'Approaches to the understanding of decentralization'", Journal of Politics 27(3), 1965; Fesler, 'The political role of field administration' in F. Heady & D. L. Stokes, Papers in Comparative Public Administration, Institute of Public Administration, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1962; Fesler, 'French field administration: the beginnings', Comparative Studies in Society and History 5(1), 1962; and Brian Smith, Field Administration, London: Routledge, 1967.
2.
The relationship between the state and economic development found expression in

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