Once the major success story of a troubled continent, by the early 1990s Kenya came to be regarded as its fallen star. This book challenges such images of reversal and the analytical polarities which sustain them. Based on several years of research in Kenya, the analysis ranges from telescopic to microscopic fields of vision - from national political culture, oratory, and the staging of politics, to everyday struggles for livelihood among people in one rural locale during the past century. This sliding scale of analysis allows the author to experiment theoretically with a number of themes informed by contemporary analytical tensions among post-modernist 'chaos', historical contingency, and structural regularities. The result is a study which combines many disciplines and perspectives to give a rich and varied picture of the culture of politics in twentieth-century Kenya.
• First-time paperback of successful title • High-profile author, both in Europe and the United States • Lucidly written, subtle, rich material • Breaks new ground in anthropology
Introduction; 1. Staging politics in Kenya; 2. Shattered silences: political culture and 'democracy' in the early 1990s; 3. Open secrets: everyday forms of domination before 1990; 4. Moral economy and the quest for wealth in central Kenya since the late nineteenth century; 5. The dove and the castor nut: Embu household economy in the 1980s; 6. Conclusions: 'the showpiece of an hour'.
'... a highly perceptive and interesting analysis, deconstruction is not too strong a term, of Kenya's politics … well researched, documented and enlightening book.' African Affairs