The entrance to the Department of History’s office in Sidney Smith Hall

Mau Mau: The Face of International Terrorism in the 1950s in Contemporary Perspective

Start Date and Time:

Thursday, November 9, 2017, 3:00PM

End Date and Time:

Thursday, November 9, 2017, 5:00PM


Prof. Bruce Berman (Emeritus - Political Studies And History; Queen's University)

For more than 30 years until the end of the 1980s, Mau Mau in Kenya was to the Western world the terrifying face of African savagery. This image of Mau Mau was vigorously propagated by the British through the Western media, and was used to justify one of the first counter insurgency campaigns against anti-colonial terrorism. In contemporary perspective, what Mau Mau suggests is the shared origins of the far more violent and ideologically extreme movements from Boko Haram and al Shabaab to the Arab spring and ISIS in the catastrophic impact of capitalist modernity on the underclass of indigenous societies. What we can learn from Mau Mau is what one veteran told a visiting researcher, that he joined the movement "to get land and become an adult." At the same time, we can recognize the contemporary circumstances that have both made contemporary terrorism more ideologically extreme and violent while limiting the response of Western powers, in particular, to repression and destruction.


  • History
  • Political Science
  • African Studies

Contact Information

Julie MacArthur


Room SS 2098, Natalie Zemon Davis, Sidney Smith Hall, 100 St George St, Toronto, ON M5S 3G3 view full map




Faculty, Graduate Students, Undergraduate Students

Image of Professor Emeritus Brue Berman