Politics of the Womb: Women, Reproduction, and the State in Kenya

By Lynn M. Thomas | Go to book overview

Acknowledgements

The roots of this book lie in an honors thesis on marriage law in postcolonial Kenya. When I was a second-year undergraduate, David William Cohen agreed to be my academic advisor. He continued in that role over the next ten years and at three different universities. In freely sharing his scholarship and ideas, he encouraged me to develop my own and convinced me that I had something significant to contribute. I would also like to thank a remarkable group of students at Johns Hopkins University—Keith Breckenridge, Timothy Burke, Catherine Burns, Clifton Crais, Garrey Dennie, Carolyn Hamilton, George Martin, and Jonathon Sadowsky—who first showed me the intellectual and political excitement of studying African history.

I am grateful to the Thomas J. Watson Foundation for granting me a fellowship to study women and customary law in Kenya during 1989–90. The generosity of Gitobu and Florence Imanyara, their families, and the staff of the Nairobi Law Monthly made that year a tremendous experience. The Imanyaras introduced me to Meru by inviting me to accompany them on a visit “home. ” And when I expressed an interest to return, they arranged for me to stay with relatives. In Meru, Sara Ayub, Zipporah and Kiautha Arithi, Charity Nduru, and Grace Kirimi extended unending hospitality and taught me much about life in Meru town and its surrounding environs. In Nairobi, Martin Fischer, Mary McVay, and Pauline Njuki similarly offered hospitality and friendship. During that first visit to Kenya, I also met Luise White. Her innovative scholarship, generous advice, and enthusiasm for this project have strongly influenced its development. I thank them all.

As a graduate student at Northwestern University and the University of Michigan, I had the privilege to study with a number of gifted scholars and teachers. Frederick Cooper provided me with orienting questions and work-

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