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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Aneesa Kassam

Kassam, A. (2009). In Search of the Good Life: Life History of a Kenyan Indian Settler. A Sartrean Approach to Biography and History. History and Anthropology 20(4): 435-457.

Author(s) from Durham


This article recounts how a young Shi’a Muslim Indian born in north‐west India migrated to Kenya in the early twentieth century in the context of the evolving trade linking the two continents, and rose to become a successful merchant and respected member of the community. It portrays the struggles that he undertook with fellow Kenyan Indians against British colonial policies of racial discrimination and political marginalization, and shows some of the unintended consequences of these actions for the group in the post‐colonial period. Through the application of Jean‐Paul’s Sartre’s concepts of project, situation, seriality and dialectical totalization, the article attempts to capture some of the historical processes that took place during the period at four interconnected levels: individual; communal; regional; and global.