I am an historian of Africa, environment and empire, with a Kenya specialism. I retired from the OU in November 2018, and am now an independent scholar and Honorary OU Associate affiliated to the Ferguson Centre and History Department.
I am currently consultant to an AHRC-funded research project led by Dr Jeremy Lind, based at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. This study is examining the impacts of extractive industry on indigenous communities in Kenya and Madagascar, in collaboration with researchers from the communities concerned. I am also developing plans to continue researching Alternative Rites of Passage in East Africa (a strategy used in anti-FGM/C campaigns).
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 early colonial Kenya, and Maasai responses to land alienation (monograph published 2006, reissued in paperback in 2016, see Publications). I later took up a postdoctoral position that involved researching and writing the commissioned book Environment and Empire with 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 Sociology BA from the University of Sussex. My earlier career was spent largely in journalism, in both the mainstream media and the NGO world.
My research interests include heritage, memory and memorialisation (including that of Mau Mau), Alternative Rites of Passage (a strategy in anti-FGM/C [female genital mutilation/cutting] campaigns in Africa), the politics of identity, indigenous rights, and constitutional change and cultural rights in contemporary Kenya. I was Principal Investigator of the ESRC-funded project ‘Cultural Rights and Kenya’s New Constitution’ (2014-17). I previously led the AHRC-funded 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 British Academy UK-Africa Partnership Scheme Award for research on Kenyan heritage (2007-10). For further information, please see my academia.edu profile.
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 (OUP, 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; reissued in paperback 2016). A revised version of my doctoral dissertation (Oxford 2002). 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.
‘Alternative rites of Passage: Faith, rights and performance in FGM/C abandonment campaigns in Kenya’. Special Issue of African Studies on cultural rights and constitutional change, co-guest edited with Mark Lamont, 77 (2), June 2018: 274-292.
‘Introduction: Cultural rights and constitutional change’, with Mark Lamont, Special Issue of African Studies, 77 (2), June 2018: 159-170.
‘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.
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).
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).
2017. ‘Implementing cultural rights (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). This is not yet published in book form, but is viewable on the Katiba Institute website.
Forthcoming: Chapter on cultural rights in Kenya, eight years after the passing of the 2010 Constitution, co-authored with Emily Kimana, for a book edited by Yash Pal Ghai and Jill C. Ghai for The Katiba Institute, Nairobi. (Title not yet confirmed.)
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).
2018. ‘Alternative Rites of Passage in FGM/C Abandonment Campaigns in Africa: A research opportunity’. Co-authored with Lawrence Droy, Mark Lamont, et al. Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Leicester. https://doi.org/10.29311/lwps.201812820 (Also see https://www2.le.ac.uk/institution/lias/lias-global)
2011. Ferguson Centre Working Paper No 1. ‘Promoting Peace through Dialogue: Facilitating cultural exchange visits in Kenya’. The Open University.
|Empire and Postcolonial Studies Research Group||Group||Faculty of Arts|
|The Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies||Centre||Faculty of Arts|