VIDEO: Smith Explores the History of African Colonization in Old Dominion Lecture

March 19, 2020
Aftermath of dam collapse at Patel Flowers Farms, Kenya. Photo: AP/Ilya Gridneff

Watch the video here.

On March 4, Professor of English D. Vance Smith gave the final talk in the Humanities Council’s 2019-20 Old Dominion Lecture series in which he looked at the implantation, origination, and exploitation of aesthetic objects in Africa. His research project under the general title “The Persistence of the Middle Ages in Kenya’s Land Use Rights” was conducted in summer 2019 at the Mpala Research Center located on the Laikipia Plateau in northern Kenya.

With the support of the Office of the Associate Provost for International Affairs’ Mpala Research Fund, Smith’s latest work looks at the deep medieval structure of land ownership in contemporary Kenya visible in both colonial-era writing and in the contemporary shape of both the massive flower industry and the policies and practices of wildlife conservation; how in law, scholarship, and the imagination, “the notion of what’s modern in Kenya is entangled with the colonial vision of the Middle Ages.”

D. Vance Smith is Professor of English and 2019-20 Old Dominion Research Professor. Read about our current Old Dominion Research Professors here.

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