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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Learning from the grassroots: Emergent peacebuilding design in pastoralist Kenya
by Ervin, Gail Mandell, Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2015, 306; 10009094
Abstract (Summary)

Pastoralists (nomadic herders) live throughout the arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya, where they have historically been marginalized, with little development and security. Continuing traditions of cattle rustling and ethnic violence present significant barriers to development, and external peacebuilding efforts achieve limited results in such conflicts. A uniquely pastoralist grassroots peacebuilding process emerged to address pastoralist conflict, which generated sustainable peace in Laikipia yet was never studied. A review of extant literature conducted for this dissertation led to the conclusion that the peacebuilding field does not sufficiently study such grassroots volunteer peacebuilding, and support for such efforts is hampered by Western teleological approaches that have limited capacity to deal with emergence and complexity. This dissertation addresses these deficiencies by enhancing understanding and utilization of emergent peacebuilding in Kenya’s pastoralist cultures. In this study, Kenya Pastoralist Network and Mediators Beyond Borders–Kenya Initiative co-researchers collaboratively developed a participatory action research (PAR) project focused on a 2009 peacebuilding effort known as the Laikipia Peace Caravan (LPC). The dissertation explored how effective and sustainable grassroots peacebuilding emerges in pastoralist cultures. The PAR approach was utilized to support pastoralists in empowering themselves regarding the ways in which their neotraditional peacebuilding works, and how it can become more sustainable. Multi-ethnic co-researchers engaged in study design, data collection, inquiry and qualitative analysis, conducting semistructured multilingual interviews with 49 diverse Laikipia community members, officials and LPC professionals. Archival research was collected from a range of sources.

This study found that effective and sustainable pastoralist peacebuilding emerged from expansive utilization of diverse pastoralist social networks, cycles of learning and adaptation, integration of practical wisdom and cultural sensitivities, and systemic transformation of transactional, attitudinal and structural societal domains through dialogue processes, modeling and grassroots self-organization. The dissertation outlines and provides evidence for a novel conceptual framework, emergent peacebuilding design, which involves a multidimensional systemic approach to peacebuilding that emerges from social networks, embraces diversity and complexity, is inclusive of traditional methods, and adapts as necessary to meet changes in context and process.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Federman, Joel
Commitee: Pilisuk, Marc, Southern, Nancy
School: Saybrook University
Department: Human Science
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 77/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Peace Studies, Ethnic studies, Sub Saharan Africa Studies
Keywords: Complexity, Emergence, Grassroots, Par, Pastoralists, Peacebuilding
Publication Number: 10009094
ISBN: 978-1-339-45772-7
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