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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Tom Cunningham

Tom Cunningham
Tom Cunningham
African Studies School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
Research Interests
History, Colonial/imperial history, Historical Ethnography, Body, Britain, Kenya, Archives, Oral History, Everyday Life

PhD Title

'Muscular Christianity':The Church of Scotland Mission, Gikuyu and the Question of the Body in Colonial Kenya

My PhD thesis is a cultural history of the Church of Scotland Mission in colonial Kenya. It is about the role played by the missionaries in colonising processes in the Gikuyu highlands, with particular emphasis on how missionary work raised questions about the body, embodiment and personhood. With attention to missionary sport programmes, hygiene, the "labour question" in colonial Kenya, and the "female circumcision controversy" of 1929, it shows how missionaries played an important role in colonial biopolitics. It is based on archival research in Edinburgh and central Kenya and oral history interviews conducted during 10 months' fieldwork in Kenya. 

Between January and April 2016 I worked on the British Library-funded Protecting the Archive of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa project.


"These Our Games" – Sport and the Church of Scotland Mission to Kenya, c. 1907–1937, History in Africa, Volume 43 June 2016, pp. 259-288.