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Pokot and Western Christian Missions: A Postcolonial Study of Place and Perception

Authors: Julie Morris*, University of Kansas
Topics: Africa, Cultural Geography, Religion
Keywords: Pokot, Kenya, missions, postcolonial, religion, place
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Since the first British colonizers arrived at the end of the nineteenth century in the place of the Pokot people in western Kenya and eastern Uganda, the place of the pastoralist Pokot people has become a contact zone of cultures, a place of struggle, negotiation, and hybridity. The British officials sent to preside over the district early in the colonial period were soon followed by the first Western Christian missionaries who arrived in 1931. Since then, negotiations between Western Christian forces, particularly individual Christian missionaries and mission organizations, and the Pokot people have influenced the landscape and created a distinct sense of place of the Pokot in Kenya. A postcolonial reading of mission records and missionary texts supplemented with interviews with missionaries and local residents of the small village of Asilong in West Pokot County, Kenya reveals the ambiguity of meaning of place in this British colonial and postcolonial outpost. Interactions between Western missionaries and the Pokot people have been inscribed on the regional landscape in mappable ways; however, the sense or meaning of place is unmappable and innately multidimensional. This poster focuses on one dimension of the Pokot’s sense of place: that which comes from the negotiations, interactions, viewpoints, and perceptions of, on, and between Western missionaries and Pokot residents. This contact zone of place-making directly impacts the history and future story of development, religious identity, aid, and cross-cultural relationships in West Pokot and similar rural, pastoral communities.

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