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Martin S. Shanguhyia

Martin S. Shanguhyia

Contact Information:


524 Eggers Hall

Martin S. Shanguhyia

Associate Professor, History Department

Director, Maxwell African Scholars Union

O'Hanley Faculty Scholar

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., West Virginia University, 2007


Martin S. Shanguhyia’s research focuses on colonial and postcolonial Africa, with a specific concentration on Eastern Africa. Of interest to him is the intersection between environment and state and community interests. What are the outcomes when these interests clash? How do states and African communities use critical environmental resources to fend off competition while hedging their interests? Shanguhyia also likes to interrogate how regulation of the natural environment shapes economic and social relations between the state and local communities.

He has published "Population, Tradition & Environmental Control in Colonial Kenya, 1920-1963" (University of Rochester Press, December 2015). Shanguhyia has also co-edited (with Toyin Falola) "The Palgrave Handbook of African Colonial and Postcolonial History" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). His current research project analyzes colonial administration of Kenya’s northwestern borderlands, especially the regulation of mobilities and their impact on inter-ethnic relations. 

Areas of Expertise

Colonial and postcolonial Africa; environmental and economic history; rural agrarian transformation; access to critical natural resources; development; resource governance; and production and flow of commodities

Research Grant Awards and Projects

International Development Research Center Grant (IDRC): for a project on environment and cross-border human insecurity in Kenya's northwestern international borders (October 2013-November 2014)

Appleby-Mosher Fund, Faculty Summer Research Grant, Maxwell School of Syracuse University, 2012-2013

Appleby-Mosher Fund, Faculty Summer Research Grant Maxwell School of Syracuse University, 2011-2012

Pigott Research Fund, History Department, Syracuse University, 2011

Dean's Doctoral Students Dissertation Travel Fund, 2004/2005, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, West Virginia University



Population, Tradition & Environmental Control in Kenya, 1920-1963 (University of Rochester Press)

With Toyin Falola, The Palgrave Handbook of African Colonial and Postcolonial History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). 

With Toyin Falola, Development in Modern Africa: Past and Present Perspectives (London: Routledge, 2020). 

Peer-Reviewed Journal articles  

“The Local Native Council, Economic Imperatives, and Colonial Forest Preservation in Western Kenya, c. 1900–1950” African Economic History, Volume 49, No.2 (2021):77-106.  

“Squatters, Access to Land, and Production of National Narratives in Post-Colonial Kenya” Canadian Journal of African Studies, November 18, 2021 (pp. 1-24).  

“Insecure borderlands, marginalization, and local perceptions of the state in Turkana, Kenya, circa 1920–2014”, Journal of East African Studies, Vol. 15, Issue 1 (2021): 85-107. 

"British War-Effort Programme and the Making of the Land Degradation Narrative in Colonial Western Kenya", Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, Issue 16.2 (Johns Hopkins University Press, August 2015).

"Integrating African Traditions in Environmental Control in Western Kenya: Contradictions and Failure in Colonial Policy, 1920-1963", International Journal of African Historical Studies , Vol. 49, No. 1 (2016): 23-52.

Peer-Reviewed Book Chapters

“Colonialism and the African Environment”, in Martin S. Shanguhyia and Toyin Falola, eds., Palgrave Handbook of African Colonial and Postcolonial History (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018): 43-80. 

 “Ethnicity, Colonial Expediency, and Development of Retail Business in Colonial Turkana, Northwestern Kenya, 1920-1950” in Moses E. Ochonu, ed., Entrepreneurship in Africa: A Historical Approach (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2018): 296-319.

 “Economic and Material basis of Wildlife Preservation in Early Colonial East Africa”, in Christopher De Course, ed., Power, Political Economy, and Historical Landscapes of the Modern World (Fernand Braudel Center, Studies in Historical Social Science, SUNY Press, Albany, 2019): 325-347.

“Land Reforms, Landlessness and Poverty in Kenya: The Post-colonial Experience” in Mike Odugbo Odey and Toyin Falola, eds., Poverty Reduction Strategies in Africa (London: Routledge, 2017)

 “In Search of a Political Identity: The Historical Basis of Understanding Zanzibar’s Post-Colonial Dilemma”, in Shadrack S. Nasong’o, ed., The Roots of Ethnic Conflict in Africa: From Grievance to Violence (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), pp. 125 – 153.

 With Mickie M. Forster, “Land and Conflict in Kenya’s Rift Valley: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives”, in Toyin Falola and Emmanuel Mbah, eds., Contemporary Africa: Challenges and Opportunities (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014):191–223.

 “Africa and the Making of the Global Environmental Narrative: Challenges and Opportunities for the Continent’s Development Initiatives”, in Toyin Falola and Jessica Archberger, eds., The Political Economy of Development and Underdevelopment in Africa (New York: Routledge, 2013): 19–46.

Encyclopedia Articles 

"Mauritius", in Daniel Jean-Jacques and Toyin Falola, ed., Africa: An Encyclopedia of Culture and Society (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2016): 802-826.

"Elijah Masinde", in Emmanuel K. Akyeampong and Henry Louis Gates Jr, eds., Dictionary of African Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011):121-123.

“Leopold II”, in Junius P. Rodriguez, ed., Slavery in the Modern World [2 volumes]: A History of Political, Social, and Economic Oppression, Vol. 1 (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2011): 388-390.

"Tippu Tip" in Junius P. Rodriguez, ed., Slavery in the Modern World [2 volumes]: A History of Political, Social, and Economic Oppression, Vol. 2 (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2011): 521-523.

"East African Cooperation", in Carole Boyce Davis, ed., The Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora (ABC-CLIO, 2008): 407-409.

Book Reviews

Ulrike Kirchberger and Brett M. Bennet, eds., Environments of Empire: Networks and Agents of Ecological Change (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2020), English Historical Review.

Jacob S. Dlamini, Safari Nation: A Social History of the Kruger National Park, (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2020), Journal of African History, Vol. 62, Issue 2, July 20, 20221 

Julie MacArthur, ed., Dedan Kimathi on Trial: Colonial and Popular Memory in Kenya's Mau Mau Rebellion (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2017) African Studies Review, Volume 62, Number 2, June 2019. DOI: 

Daniel Branch, Defeating Mau Mau, Creating Kenya: Counterinsurgency, Civil War, and Decolonization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. xx + 250 pp. H-Net Africa (August 2010). 

Policy Research Paper

"Past and Current Initiatives in Managing Trans-border Insecurity in Kenya's Turkana Borderlands: Implications for Future Policy", International Development and Research Center and Practical Action Eastern Africa, Policy Paper (November, 2014).    

Papers Presented and Panels Chaired

“Grievance, Compensation, and Colonial Governance of Kenya’s Northwestern Borderlands, 1920-1950”, American Historical Association, February 26, 2022.

 Discussant, James Parker’s “Permeable Boundaries: Development and the Continuity of Resource Sharing in the Northern Frontier of Kenya”, Post-doctoral Fellows Workshop, Carter Woodson Institute, University of Virginia, Charlotteville, November 17, 2021.

 “A community’s view of the roles of colonial and postcolonial states in alleviating cross-Border violence and human insecurity: the case of the Turkana of northwestern Kenya, circa 1920 to the present”, presented at the Maro Einaudi Center for International Studies, Cornell University, February 20, 2020.

 “African Agency, Control Crisis, and the Quest for Ecological ‘Order’ in Colonial Western Kenya”, African Studies Association Annual Meeting, Boston, Mass., November 21, 2019.

Discussant to the Panel The Past and Present of Land Access in Africa at the 60th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association, Chicago, IL, November 16-18, 2017

Colloquium Presentation (by Invitation),“Taming Nature: The Political Economy of Wildlife Conservation in Early Colonial East Africa”, at theBraudel Center, SUNY Binghamton University, on the theme Power, Political Economy, and Historical Landscapes of the Modern World: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, April 29, 2017

“Pastoralism, Barter Exchange, and the Evolution of Colonial Policy Towards ‘Modern’ Trade in Turkana, Northwestern Kenya, 1920-1950”, African Studies Association (ASA), Washington DC, November 30, 2016.

“A Community's View of the Roles of Colonial and Postcolonial States in Alleviating Cross-Border Conflict: The Case of the Turkana of Northwestern Kenya”, African Studies Association (ASA), San Diego, California, November 19, 2015.

Chair of the panel “Litigating Diverse Subjects: Law, Sovereignty, and State-Building in Early Colonial East Africa”, at the African Studies Association (ASA), San Diego, California, November 19, 2015.

“Development Experiments for Engaging Poverty and Insecurity in a Colonial Borderlands Community: The Case of the Turkana of northwestern Kenya, 1920-1955”, University of Texas at Austin, April 5, 2015.

“Land as a Source of National Narratives in Kenya since Independence”, Presented at the Kenya at 50: Half a Century of Decolonization and Independence Workshop, St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY (May 30th-June 1st 2014).

“Transnational Migration and Ecological and Economic Transformation in Eastern Africa: The Case of the Maragoli Diaspora in Kigumba Settlement Scheme in Uganda”, at the Africa Conference, the University of Texas at Austin, April 4-6, 2014.

“Rehabilitating “Tradition” in Soil Conservation: The Failure of Colonial Efforts in Colonial Western Kenya”, presented as part of the Maxwell African Scholars Union, Syracuse University, April 05, 2013.

“Rural Mobilization and Protest against State Afforestation Initiatives in Western Kenya, 1945-1975”, Present at Africa Conference, University of Texas, Austin, March 31, 2013.

‘Population Narratives and Constructing Alternative Agricultural Pathways in Rural Western Kenya, 1945-1963”, paper presented at the African Studies Association Annual Meeting, the Downtown Marriot Hotel, Philadelphia, PA, December 1, 2012.

“Reversed Roles: Markets, Peri-urban Expansion, and Food Insecurity in Rural Kenya”, Co-presented at the “Global Gateways and Local Connections: Cities, Agriculture, and the Future of Food Systems Conference”, at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, June 20, 2012.

“Creating Poor Citizens: Stunted Land Reforms and Landlessness in Modern Kenya”, Africa Conference on Poverty and Empowerment at the University of Texas at Austin, March 30-April 1, 2012.

“Africa's Engagement with Global Environmental Politics: Some Thoughts on Challenges and Opportunities in Historical and Recent Times”, The Eduardo Mondlane Brown Bag Lunch Series of the Africa Initiative, Syracuse University, April 7, 2011.

“Africa and the Making of the Global Environmental Narrative”, Paper presented at the Africa Conference on Africa in World Politics, March 25-27, 2011at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Agrarian Change and Chiefly Power in Western Kenya, 1920-1950”, Paper Presented at the 50th African Association Studies Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA, November 19, 2009

“The origins, History, and Impact of the Lord’s Resistance Movement in Northern Uganda and Neighboring Countries”, Presented to the Ohio State Chapter of Invisible Children, Stradley Hall, Columbus, OH, April 23, 2009:

“Invoking African Tradition and Knowledge in Accessibility to and Use of Land: The Rural Community Versus the Colonial State in Western Kenya, 1930-1940”, presented at the African Studies Association Annual Meeting at the Sheraton Hotel, Chicago, November 15, 2008

“Evaluating the Place of African Indigenous Institutions in Colonial Soil Conservation Policies in the Kenya Colony, 1945-1950”, Presented at the African Studies Group, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, November 4, 2007

“The Colonial State and Contradictions in the Use of African Traditions in Land Management in Western Kenya, 1930-1950”, presented at the African Studies Association Annual Meeting at the Sheraton Hotel, New York, October 20, 2007

“British colonial soil conservation policies and practices in Kenya’s African Reserves as influenced by American soil conservationism in the 1930s”, a paper presented at the Senator Rush Holt Conference, West Virginia University, Morgantown, April 13, 2007.

“Colonial Contradictions in Soil Conservation Campaigns in Western Kenya, 1930s and 1940s”, a Poster presented at the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences’ Research Horizon’s Poster Day, April 5, 2007, at West Virginia University.

“World War II and State Policies for African Production in Western Kenya: Establishing the Ecological Implications, 1938-1945”, a paper presented at the African Studies Association Annual Conference Meeting, November 16-19, 2006, St. Westin Hotel, San Francisco, CA.

“Youth and Cultural Tensions in a Pioneer Mission Community: The Early Years of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada in Western Kenya, 1910-1945”, Paper presented at the African Studies Association (ASA) Annual Meeting, October 30-November 2, 2003, Boston, MA.  

Chaired the Panel Disciplining Youth, African Studies Association Annual Meeting, October 30-November 2, 2003, Boston MA. 

“A States Dilemma Amid Soil Erosion and Conservation Crisis: Empowering the indigenous Land Authority in Vihiga, Western Kenya, 1930-1950”. Paper presented at the African Studies Association Annual Meeting, November 11-14, 2004, New Orleans, LA.  

Chaired the Panel Land, Inequality, and Food Security in East Africa

African Studies Association Annual Meeting, November 11-14, 2004, New Orleans, LA. 

Previous Teaching Appointments

Assistant Professor of History (Africa, Pre-colonial, Colonial, Postcolonial) Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University 2010 to the Present

Visiting Assistant Professor College of William and Mary, Williamsburg VA, Lyon Tyler Department of History, 2009-2010

Visiting Assistant Professor Ohio State University, Columbus OH, Department of African American and African Studies, 2008-2009