Land, Freedom and Rehabilitation (visual notes from an ongoing project)
The windows present visual and textual notes from our research, which explores the history and micropolitics of rehabilitation. The project looks at the continuities between colonial rehabilitation projects in Kenya and elsewhere that sought to pathologise and ‘cure’ insurgent ‘diseases’ such as Mau Mau, to ‘jihadi rehab’ camps in Saudi Arabia and Egypt since the 1990s. It explores the traces of pseudo-psychology and moral individualism found in neoliberal ideas of self-help and self-governance today, and how subjects are designated politically ‘vulnerable’. The project also examines the specific techniques of rehabilitation used to turn and individualise insurgents, and the regimes of justification that acted as a cover for forced labour and the ‘civilizing mission’ of colonialism.
In the 1950s, the Land and Freedom movement in Kenya was framed and understood through a lens of counterinsurgency; through the short-lived discipline of ‘ethno-psychiatry’; and through the natural sciences. The windows reflect on some of these orders of knowledge by assembling images from rehabilitation works camps in the Central Province of Kenya, and natural history books on the Great Rift Valley. It presents particular definitions, instructions and order words that framed both the rehabilitation ‘pipeline’ and the military efforts to turn insurgents and recruit informers for pseudo-gangs.
David Anderson, Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire, New York: W.W. Norton, 2005.
Caroline Elkins, Britain’s Gulag: the Brutal End of Empire in Kenya, London : Jonathan Cape, 2005.
John Walter Gregory, The Great Rift Valley. Being the Narrative of a Journey to Mount Kenya and Lake Baringo. With some account of the Geology, Natural history, Anthropology, and Future Prospects of British East Africa … With maps and illustrations, London: J. Murray, 1896.
Major Frank Kitson, Gangs And Counter-Gangs, London: Barrie and Rockliff, 1960