participatory violence and localized peacebuilding in post-election kenya

In December, I submitted a paper to USIP’s first Case Studies in Peacebuilding Competition. USIP’s Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding conducted the competition in coordination with Georgia State University’s Department of Political Science. I recently received word that my submission, a case study on participatory violence and localized peacebuilding initiatives in post-election Kenya, was selected by the competition panel as one of the winning cases.

You can read the paper here, or take a look at the summary below. I have little background in Kenyan politics, and would certainly welcome feedback on the paper’s development, structure, and content:

This case study assesses existing gaps in Kenya’s national-level, post-election political reconciliation processes, particularly those which pertain to international, regional, and national interactions with Mungiki, the Kikuyu ethnic revival movement, violent crime syndicate, and youth organization. The study views Mungiki’s violent mobilization surrounding the 2007 elections as a mechanism for political participation, rather than an apolitical clash of ethnic or land-based interests. Mungiki’s participatory violence in 2007-8 operated at both the local level, as a form of preference expression in a violent, democratic sphere, and the national level, at which Kenya’s Kikuyu elites utilized Mungiki violence as a political vehicle for state capture. Seen through this lens, Mungiki’s social role differs from mainstream categorizations of the movement as an unruly, disorganized collection of disaffected youth. Instead, Mungiki functions as a form of uncivil society within Kenyan politics, using formal, informal, and violent mechanisms of participation, association, and service provision to organize constituencies, influence politics, and facilitate social interaction.

The study focuses on community-based mediation and dispute resolution efforts during and in the aftermath of Kenya’s 2007-8 election-related violence. While international coverage and analysis of post-conflict reconciliation efforts has frequently focused on national-level processes, this study centers on local efforts to engage Mungiki participants and mitigate community violence surrounding the elections. This case study centers on the work of Pyramids of Peace, a national network of local peacemakers active in urban and rural communities throughout Kenya’s post-election crisis.

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