Below is an excerpt from his MacArthur Fellow website about this work:

Derek Peterson is a historian reshaping our understanding of the African experience of colonialism through close study of local texts and the creativity of their authors. Fluent in Gikuyu and Swahili, important languages in eastern Africa, Peterson draws on an unprecedented range of vernacular and English-language sources written by Africans, including record books, diaries, religious pamphlets, syllabi and dictionaries, oral histories, and letters. His analyses of these texts extend beyond their content to include the context in which they were created and their intellectual, aesthetic, and material characteristics. To read the full info, visit:

Derek Peterson is professor of history and Afroamerican and African studies. An active faculty affiliate of the African Studies Center, he has served as the African Heritage Coordinator from 2009-17, as ASC associate director from 2008-12, and as ASC director from 2012-13. Professor Peterson has been a recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Guggenheim and the British Academy Fellowships. To learn more about his work, visit

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