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Department of History
"Sanitary Segregation: Cleansing Colonial Cities, Accra and Nairobi, 1908-1963"
In the first two decades of the 20th century, the reordering of urban space through racial segregation was commonplace in colonial cities. Beginning in 1908 and in response to public health threats, the Colonial Office endorsed W.J.R. Simpson's segregationist vision as a remedy for the recurring outbreaks of contagious diseases in British colonial Africa. While scholars have examined Simpson's segregationist vision for a stable and healthy empire, they have not explored the varied local contexts in which that vision was implemented. Based on official documents, newspapers, reports by hygiene experts, and life histories, this project explores the application of Simpson's segregationist blueprint in two different colonial contexts, Accra and Nairobi, from 1908 to 1963. The dissertation seeks to understand how local actors facilitated, challenged, and adapted Simpson's sanitation-through-segregation scheme as they shaped the urban landscape. It demonstrates how sanitation became a primary mechanism for enforcing and contesting the ordering of urban space.
RESEARCH SITES: Accra, Ghana; Nairobi, Kenya