Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2019

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



The dissertation begins by examining the segregationist plans of William Simpson in Accra and Nairobi in the British colonies of the Gold Coast (Ghana) and Kenya. Simpson was one of British Empire’s foremost sanitary and urban health experts who advised the Colonial Office in London. When contagious diseases threatened the very existence of colonies, his expertise was vital in stabilizing the empire and spreading segregationist ideas and practices in cities worldwide during the twentieth century. By focusing on the sanitary bases of segregation, the project transcends the difference historians and political scientists often attribute to settler and non-settler colonial states. Scholarly work concentrates on race and culture as well as the nature of colonial rule and its legacy in order to distinguish settler and non-settler colonies. This research on the historical development of Accra and Nairobi, the urban areas where British officials governed the colonies, however, provides a narrative of profound similarities. Sanitation cut across “color” boundaries and inscribed privilege on the urban landscapes of the two different colonial cities. Primary materials collected from archives and libraries across Ghana, Kenya, the U.S.A and the U.K. prove that the tenacious presence of ordinary Africans in the colonial capitals often thwarted colonial urban planning and development, which often excluded their sanitary needs. An historical analysis of colonial infrastructural development schemes meant to mitigate the uneven sanitary cityscapes reveal the challenges of governments in providing basic sanitation to most urban residents. The challenges continued to frustrate contemporary urban planners and development experts seeking to build sustainable cities for the ever-growing urban populations in the two African cities.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Jean Allman Timothy Parsons

Committee Members

Jean Allman, Timothy Parsons, Nancy Reynolds, Shanti Parikh,


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