Conor Wilkinson

 
Faculty of Arts
Joy Dixon
London
Canada
SSHRC Graduate Scholarships
 

Research Topic

Mau Mau and Masculinity: The British in Kenya during Decolonization

Research Description

Conceptions of Kenyan masculinity and femininity were fetishized, debated, institutionalized, and superimposed on numerous tribes during the colonial and decolonizing periods. British colonial administrators struggled to formulate and justify their beliefs about Kenyan manhood and womanhood, and these gendered conceptions were intertwined with narratives about race, violence, and power. Yet rarely acknowledged about these processes is the fact that Britons’ conceptions of themselves, too, were affected by the debates in which they engaged in the “colonial theater”. My research investigates the multiple ruptures that characterized Kenyan decolonization, exploring the meanings of these ruptures not just within the new African nation-state, but also for the British postcolonial experience and the fracture of European empires more generally.

What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

Now that my first year of course work is done, I'm looking forward to researching and writing my thesis. I can't wait to plunge into The National Archives in the UK and start working on my project.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

The best surprise was finding out just how much there is to do on campus: the Museum of Anthropology, the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, the Belkin Art Gallery, the Botanical Garden, and the beaches and trails have been highlights.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

There are a number of reasons I decided to study at UBC. First, I knew that the history department was one of the best in Canada, and I was particularly interested in working with my supervisor, Dr. Joy Dixon. Second, based on UBC's reputation and funding opportunities, I felt that the school was a good fit in terms of my short- and long-term career goals. And third, I was excited to exchange the dry/cold winters of Ontario with the beautiful West Coast weather.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

Competitive funding packages, accomplished and diverse faculty members, the ability to gain experience as a teaching assistant and research assistant, and genuinely supportive advisors.

 

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I decided to pursue a graduate degree because I wanted to continue probing historical questions of gender and empire that I first took interest in during my undergraduate degree. The opportunity to combine thematic coursework with my own archival research, and to do so alongside colleagues and faculty advisors, was what really attracted me. I was also intrigued by the prospect of participating in small seminars with people from diverse intellectual and cultural backgrounds.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

When I have the time I like gallivanting around Vancouver. Whether it's walking along the beaches in Kits, hiking in North Van, strolling down Commercial Drive, or sampling some of the city's craft beers, there is literally something for everyone.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

If you can, take courses outside of your department. It's a great way to meet new people and to challenge yourself.

 
 

The opportunity to combine thematic coursework with my own archival research, and to do so alongside colleagues and faculty advisors, was what really attracted me.