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Dr Lotte Hughes

Profile summary

  • Honorary Associate
  • Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • School of Hist, Rel St, Soc, SP&C
  • History

Professional biography

I am an historian of Africa, environment and empire, with a Kenya specialism. My current research interests include heritage, memory, the politics of identity and belonging, and constitutional and cultural rights issues in contemporary Kenya.

Before joining The Ferguson Centre in late 2005, I spent seven years at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford. My D.Phil. in Modern History (2002) focused on Maasai-British relations in colonial Kenya, and Maasai responses to land alienation (monograph published 2006).  This was followed by a postdoctoral post that involved researching and writing the commissioned book Environment and Empire, with Prof. William Beinart, for Oxford University Press (2007). I have a Masters in Area Studies (Africa) from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and a BA in Sociology from the University of Sussex. My earlier career was spent largely in journalism, both in the mainstream media and international NGO world.

Research interests

My current interests focus on cultural rights and constitutional change in Kenya, and more broadly  heritage, memory and memorialisation, and the contemporary memorialisation of Mau Mau. I am Principal Investigator of a three-year research project on cultural rights and Kenya’s new Constitution, funded by the ESRC, which ends in September 2017. I previously led the AHRC-funded research project ‘Managing Heritage, Building Peace: Museums, memorialization and the uses of memory in Kenya’ (2008-11). Earlier, I was the recipient with Kenyan colleague Karega-Munene of a UK-Africa Partnership Scheme Award from the British Academy, for research on Kenyan heritage (2007-10). A Summary of Managing Heritage, Building Peace project findings is available as a PDF document [13 KB].

Key publications


Annie E. Coombes, Lotte Hughes and Karega-Munene, Managing Heritage, Making Peace: History, Identity and Memory in Contemporary Kenya (I. B. Tauris, 2014).  Read a review.

Environment and Empire, co-authored with William Beinart (Oxford University Press, 2007). Commissioned for the Companion Series to the Oxford History of the British Empire. Read a review from H-Net Reviews in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Moving the Maasai: A Colonial Misadventure (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). A revised version of my doctoral dissertation (Oxford 2002). Reissued in paperback in 2016.  See a sample chapter and table of contents.

The No-Nonsense Guide to Indigenous Peoples (Verso and New Internationalist, 2003). Reissued as an e-book in 2012.

Journal articles

Heritage and memory in East Africa today: A review of recent developments in cultural heritage research and memory studies’, co-author Marie-Aude Fouéré. Special 50th Anniversary Issue of Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa, 50 (4), Dec. 2015: 542-558.

‘"Truth be Told": Some problems with historical revisionism in Kenya', African Studies 70 (2) (August 2011).  Special Issue: Heritage, History and Memory: New Research from East and southern Africa. Guest edited by Lotte Hughes, Annie E. Coombes and Karega-Munene: 182-201.

Dissident scribes: some lesser-known anti-colonial activism in and around Africa in the early 20th Century. The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 99(408) (2010): 249–265.

Beinart, William and Hughes, Lotte (2008). ‘Empire and the Visual Representation of Nature’, 1860-1960. History Compass, 6(5), pp. 1177–1193.

‘Rough Time in Paradise: Claims, blames and memory making around some protected areas in Kenya’. Current Conservation, 2.3 (Jul 2008): 12. ISSN 0974-0953. Read this article online.

‘Mining the Maasai Reserve: The story of Magadi’. In The Journal of Eastern African Studies, 2 (1) (March 2008): 134-164.

‘Rough Time in Paradise: Claims, blames and memory-making around some protected areas in Kenya’. In Conservation and Society, 5 (3) (Dec. 2007): 1-24.

‘Malice in Maasailand: The historical roots of current political struggles’, African Affairs, 104 (415) (April 2005): 207-224.

Book chapters

2017. ‘Rights, Wrongs and Reciprocity: Change and Continuities among Kenyan Maasai’. In Bruce Berman, André Laliberté and Stephen Larin (eds), Ethnic Claims and Moral Economies (UBC Press).

2017. ‘Mau Mau: A divisive heritage of liberation struggle in Kenya’, In Diana Walters, Daniel Laven and Peter Davis (eds.), Heritage and Peacebuilding (Boydell & Brewer).

Forthcoming 2017. ‘Memorialization and Mau Mau: A Critical Review’. In Julie McArthur (ed.), Dedan Kimathi on Trial: Colonial Justice and Popular Memory in Kenya’s Mau Mau Rebellion (Ohio University Press).

Forthcoming 2017. ‘Nature, issues at stake and challenges’. In Helle Porsdam and Lucky Belder (eds.) Negotiating Cultural Rights (Edward Elgar).

2017. ‘The Politics of Culture in Kenya since 2010: Implications for Pluralism’, co-authored with Steve Ouma Akoth and Celia Nyamweru. In Yash Pal Ghai and Jill C Ghai (eds.), Pluralism in Kenya (The Katiba Institute and the Global Institute for Pluralism).

2010. Les racines historiques des conflits sociopolitiques en pays maasai, Kenya. In Jean-Pierre Jacob and Pierre-Yves Le Meur (eds), Politique de la terre et de l'appartenance. Droits fonciers et citoyenneté dans les sociétés du Sud. (Karthala).

2010. "‘They Give Me Fever’: East Coast Fever and Other Environmental Impacts of the Maasai Moves". In Karen Brown and Daniel Gilfoyle (eds), Healing the Herds: Disease, Livestock Economies and the Globalization of Veterinary Medicine (Ohio University Press).

2009. Response to Richard Leakey, ‘Whose World is it Anyway?’. In Timothy Chesters (ed), Land Rights - The Oxford Amnesty Lectures 2005 (Oxford University Press).

2006. ‘“Beautiful Beasts” and Brave Warriors: The longevity of a Maasai stereotype’. In George de Vos, Lola Romanucci-Ross and Takeyuki Tsuda (eds.), Ethnic Identity: Problems and prospects for the 21st century, 4th edition (AltaMira Press).

Working papers

Ferguson Centre Working Paper No 1:
February 2011. Promoting Peace through Dialogue: Facilitating cultural exchange visits in Kenya.

See my profile on

Research Activity

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Empire and Postcolonial Studies Research GroupGroupFaculty of Arts
The Ferguson Centre for African and Asian StudiesCentreFaculty of Arts