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Jamie Parker

Ph.D. in History

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Cohort: 2015

Research Interests: European Imperialism’s Urban and Spatial History; African History

Bio: James Parker is a PhD Candidate in World History at Northeastern University, having previously completed his MA at the University of Sheffield in 2013. His research broadly focuses on the British Empire in East Africa, the history of aid and development, and environmental history, linking these through a study of rural water development programs in eastern and northern Kenya in the late-colonial period. He has also acted as a research assistant for the transnational Oceanic Exchanges digital humanities project, and currently serves as the graduate representative of the World History Association. James’ dissertation, The Fluidity of Late-Colonialism: Irrigation, Development, and Control in Kenya, 1940-1963, focuses on the history of water and irrigation in eastern and northern Kenya during the late-colonial period. During this era, the colonial state expended vast amounts of time and resources to try and increase production in rural regions of Kenya, necessitating the expansion of irrigated landscapes. He argues however that these projects served to expand state power in these liminal areas and served the needs of colonial control rather than development for rural communities. Further, the alterations to the landscape that these projects caused, both intentionally and unintentionally, created diverse ecological issues which contributed to their failure. James’ research thus deconstructs revisionist notions of the British Empire as a benevolent entity through a microstudy of coercive water development and its multiple consequences.

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