Dr Sacha Hepburn, Past & Present Fellow

Girlhood in British Colonial Africa: Gender and Childhood in Zambia and Kenya

Sacha is a social historian of Africa whose research interests centre on issues of gender, age and work. While at the IHR, she has been working on a new research project, ‘Girlhood in British Colonial Africa: Gender, Work and Childhood in Zambia and Kenya’. This research explores how British colonial officials used labour policy as part of broader projects to construct ideals of feminine childhood for colonised children; how such policies were adopted, co-opted and challenged by African societies; and how female children responded to these policies. Taking a girl-centred approach to colonial history, this project will provide new insights into the everyday workings of colonial economies, relationships between female children and the colonial state and the history of girlhood in Africa.

She is also currently writing her first book, Keeping Each Other: Domestic Service, Gender and Inequality in Post-Colonial Zambia. This book is based on research conducted for her doctoral thesis, completed at the University of Oxford in 2016. The book uses domestic service as a lens to explore social relations and economic change in post-colonial Zambia. It argues that domestic service relationships were a crucial source of social and economic support for both domestic workers and employers in a context of declining economic security and increasing inequality. The book challenges the industrial and androcentric focus of Zambian labour history by illustrating the crucial roles played by women and girl domestic workers in the post-colonial economy.