IOWC PhD Student: Erin Bell

Erin comes to McGill from Carleton University where she gained a BA (Hons.) and an MA in History. Her Master’s thesis, entitled “Beyond the Exhibit: Zulu Experiences in Britain and the United States, 1879-1884,” focused on the ways that African performers negotiated, influenced and resisted the terms under which they were being exhibited in colonial exhibitions of the time.

While Erin’s major research focus is the history of nineteenth and twentieth century Africa, particularly issues relating to slavery, colonialism, nationalism and the African Diaspora, she is also interested in the history of the Middle East during the colonial and post-colonial era, and networks of people, goods and ideas in the British Empire.

Erin’s PhD dissertation, tentatively entitled “‘The Youth Must Be Ready’: Children and the Mau Mau Uprising, 1940-1960,” will explore the role played by Kikuyu children and youth during the Mau Mau revolt that laid the foundation for Kenyan independence. In it, she analyses the relationships between childhoods, colonialism and nationalism in colonial Africa at a time when children and young people were believed to be essential to the future functioning of both the colonial state and the anti-colonial struggle. Considering children and young people as historical agents in their own right, Erin questions why youth may have been interested or coerced into assisting the movement for independence, seeks to uncover the methods used by nationalist organizations to recruit children and young people, and explores the ways in which the colonial government sought to control, punish and rehabilitate youth active in the movement.

Contact Information
Indian Ocean World Centre
Peterson Hall
3460 McTavish Street, Room 100
Montreal, Quebec, H3A 0E6
Canada
erin.bell@mail.mcgill.ca

Conference Papers

2012 "Kenyan Children and Childhoods during the Mau Mau Uprising: Working Towards a Research Agenda." Paper presented at the IOWC Seminar Series, IOWC, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 22 November 2012.

2012 "The Next Generation of Mau Mau? Young Girls in the Kamiti Prison Debates, 1954-1956." Paper presented at the First Annual IOWC Graduate Conference on Indian Ocean World History, IOWC, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 27-28 October 2012.

2012 "Beyond the Exhibit: Zulu Experiences in Britain and the United States, 1879-1884." Paper presented at the Canadian Association of African Studies Conference, Université Laval, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, 4 May 2012.

2012 "Mau Mau Historiography Re-Considered: The Need for a Generational Analysis of the Mau Mau Uprising." Paper presented at the Fifth Annual IOWC Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference on Africa, Indian Ocean World Centre, McGill University, 26 April 2012.

2012 "'They Objected to Being Handed Over and Sold Like Cows': Negotiating, Influencing and Resisting the Terms of Ethnographic Exhibitions." Paper presented at the IOWC Seminar Series, IOWC, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 22 March 2012.

2011 "An Unwholesome Kind of Independence: The African Working Class in Natal, 1840-1904." Paper presented at the Underhill Graduate Student Colloquium, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, 3-4 March 2011.

2010 "'If they Remained in London as They Were, They Would Get Into Trouble in Many Ways': Zulu Performers and British Justice, London 1880." Paper presented at the Canadian Association of African Studies (CAAS) Conference, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, 5-7 May 2010.