“Stoop Low to Conquer”: Race and sexual trusteeship in the Kenyan “Indian Crisis” of 1923

  • Williams E
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This article examines the Indian Crisis of 1923, during which Kenyan-Indians attempted to gain political equality with Europeans. The debates surrounding the Indian Crisis circulated a discourse of sexual trusteeship, an ideology that tied a racial community’s ability to enjoy the full rights of a British subject to their (suit)ability to protect the morality of less “civilized” colonial wards. White settlers argued that Indians practiced deviant sexual behaviors, making them unfit to colonize Africans; Indians countered by attacking the morals of White settlers. As both Indians and White settlers positioned themselves as the most suitable advocates for African sexual welfare, the possibility of African self-rule was erased. By correlating sexual innocence to political immaturity, sexual trusteeship suggested that because Africans were sexually “uncontaminated”, they were also destined to be ruled by more corrupted cultures.




Williams, E. (2018). “Stoop Low to Conquer”: Race and sexual trusteeship in the Kenyan “Indian Crisis” of 1923. Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, 19(3). https://doi.org/10.1353/cch.2018.0021

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