Settler decolonisation is crazy: Will Jackson, ‘The Settler’s Demise: Decolonization and Mental Breakdown in 1950s Kenya’, in Harald Fischer-Tiné (ed.), Anxieties, Fear and Panic in Colonial Settings: Empires on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Palgrave, 2017, pp. 73-96
Abstract: Existing scholarship on colonial anxieties works on the idea that certain kinds of ill-ease, discomfort and distress accompanied ‘the colonial situation’. But little of this work considers how different colonial situations engendered different kinds of anxiety for different kinds of people. This chapter populates the world of colonial anxieties with mental patients in one settler colony: Kenya in the 1950s. Their anxieties only vaguely resemble the kinds of anxieties that historians have described as characteristically colonial. More revealing is the biographical context in which anxieties were embedded. At a moment when the colonial order was on the cusp of disappearing, the lives of the settler insane give a novel counter-narrative to Britain and its empire in the twentieth century. They also place in new perspective the more overt forms of mental breakdown that the settler community in Kenya performed in response to the violence of Mau Mau.
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