The violence that followed the 2007 elections in Kenya caught many people by surprise, including me. Given some familiarity with, and personal connections to, Kenya, this dissertation began first with shock and concern, and later with suspicion of the way the post election violence was presented in the Western media as yet another example of sudden, prolific, and nonsensical outbreaks of violence in Africa. It seemed notable that the violence occurred around political elections and important to explore the stakes therein. A review of available literature on the topic revealed that historical injustices and ethnic inequality seemed to be contributing factors in the post-election violence. A review of the psychological literature pertaining to collective violence raised questions about identity and power, obedience and conformity, and the breakdown of law and order. To the extent to which these factors and principles shed some light on what happened in Kenya, the question remained: what might all of this mean, concretely, in people's lives? Beyond the stories of Western journalists and behavioral scientists, I wanted to know how Kenyans narrated the post-election violence.
I turn to multisited ethnography, a method of research and writing that affords the procedural flexibility to follow the traces of such a complex phenomenon and to reflexively document the process of "finding" and understanding. If what both the Western press and conventional psychology provide tend to be general, abstract, ahistorical explanations of violence, I present a situated account involving a diversity of descriptions and explanations given by Kenyans from various tribes, classes, and political affiliations about the post-election violence and prospects of sustained peace. This includes detailed first person accounts of how things unfolded, or, fell apart. The Kenyans I spoke with narrate the post- election violence by both contextualizing it in (post)colonial history and by personalizing it in a manner that shows ethnicity in Kenya to be highly nuanced and complex. What results from this dissertation is a rearticulation of the post-election violence through revealing relations that have been obscured by the dominant discourse.
Finally, with regard to studying violence and peace, it is assumed that total understanding is impossible; I have been attendant to the challenges associated with understanding and writing about others as subjects of violence. To my project it has been essential to show the places and ways in which discourse on violence necessarily breaks down.
|Commitee:||Hopson, Rodney, Packer, Martin|
|School Location:||United States -- Pennsylvania|
|Source:||DAI-B 75/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||African Studies, Social psychology, Peace Studies|
|Keywords:||Elections, Ethnography, Kenya, Postcolonialism, Violence|
Copyright in each Dissertation and Thesis is retained by the author. All Rights Reserved
The supplemental file or files you are about to download were provided to ProQuest by the author as part of a
dissertation or thesis. The supplemental files are provided "AS IS" without warranty. ProQuest is not responsible for the
content, format or impact on the supplemental file(s) on our system. in some cases, the file type may be unknown or
may be a .exe file. We recommend caution as you open such files.
Copyright of the original materials contained in the supplemental file is retained by the author and your access to the
supplemental files is subject to the ProQuest Terms and Conditions of use.
Depending on the size of the file(s) you are downloading, the system may take some time to download them. Please be