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Coping with the Contradictions: The Development of the Colonial State in Kenya, 1895-1914

John Lonsdale and Bruce Berman
The Journal of African History
Vol. 20, No. 4, White Presence and Power in Africa (1979), pp. 487-505
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/181774
Page Count: 19
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Coping with the Contradictions: The Development of the Colonial State in Kenya, 1895-1914
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Abstract

By drawing on the current Marxist debate about the nature of the capitalist state, this article argues that the colonial state was obliged to be more interventionist than the mature capitalist state in its attempts to manage the economy, since colonies were distinguished by the way in which they articulated capitalism to local modes of production. This posed severe problems of social control, since the capitalist sector required the preservation of indigenous social institutions while also extracting resources from them. In early colonial Kenya this problem was mitigated by a rough compatibility between the needs of settler capital and the patronage exercised by African chiefs within a peasant sector which was expanded to solve the colonial administration's initial need for peace and revenue. The peasant sector was not destroyed, rather it was represented in the state, which never ceased thereafter to be plagued by the conflicts between the two modes of production over which it presided.

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