Bullets Beyond Ballots: Re-Examining the 2007-2008 Post-Election Violence through Longer-Standing Youth Mobilisation Patterns in the Slum Area of Kibera, Nairobi
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Whereas the recent episode of post-election turmoil in Kenya is most commonly framed as politically-mobilised interethnic violence, this thesis seeks to provide an alternative interpretation. By addressing localised processes of violent micro-mobilisation in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, the analysis goes beyond elite-based examinations of political fragmentation and institutional failure. Focusing on longer-standing patterns of everyday street organisation activity reveals the political-criminal violence nexus, as well as the local socio-economic and historical roots of the Kenyan crisis. Both post-election and everyday violence are examined at the grassroots level, as seen by perpetrators or witnesses, with the resulting conclusions based on indigenous conceptualisation. The crux of the argument is that beneath superficial explanations of “tribalism,” the 2007/2008 unrest presents an attempt on the part of Kibera youth to overcome, protest, or navigate multi-level insecurity and persisting social injustices through violence. Micro-level findings (livelihood strategies, motivations) are put in relational perspective (political elites, other societal groups), and analysed against the backdrop of the macro context (political economy, globalisation).