This article examines the responses of Luyia communities to economic challenges and opportunities produced by restrictive British forestry policies in North Kavirondo District, western Kenya. Those colonial policies impeded access by peasant households to agricultural land in protected forests amid agricultural commercialization. The Local Native Council (LNC) aided this cause and launched sustained efforts to gain control of local forests and their revenue from government. Whereas historians have addressed the role of LNCs in Kenya, their role in resource management, particularly in forestry, remains unexplored. Consequently, the article makes three key scholarly contributions to colonial and economic history regarding forestry. First, it reveals the LNC's communal pursuits, beyond the individual self-seeking material accumulation tendencies that its African members have been associated with in Kenya's colonial historiography. Secondly, it places land at the center of local contestation over restrictive forestry programs, away from tangible forest products that inform colonial responses to those programs. Third, the article shows the inclination of dispossessed communities to negotiate or petition imperial capture of local resources on a collective, "pan-ethnic" basis, without recourse to active and subtle resistances evident in other colonial contexts.


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pp. 77-106
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