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Cooperation in the midst of violence: land deals and cattle raids in Narok and Laikipia, Kenya

  • Marie Ladekjær Gravesen and Eric Mutisya Kioko

Abstract

What drives the formation of ties and networks in ethnically hybrid spaces despite the occurrence of conflict? We approach this question by examining the actors involved, the institutions affected, and the economic and environmental contexts surrounding such tendencies. This study explores socially thick arrangements between Maasai and Kikuyu in Narok and their role in the non-violent use of formerly contested lands. In Laikipia, we examine how young Samburu and Kikuyu cooperate in a dangerous yet economically beneficial network involving cattle-rustling ventures. We revisit the history of land settlement in Kenya's Rift Valley, particularly in the study areas of Narok and Laikipia, and show how access and settlement rights to land are negotiated peacefully, encouraging ethnic assimilation and cooperative social and economic relations. Based on this context and the exploration of our case studies, we argue that the formation of alliances in multi-ethnic settings tends to override other identities when mutual benefits drive such associations.

Qu'est-ce qui stimule la formation de liens et de réseaux dans des espaces ethniquement hybrides malgré l'existence d'un conflit ? Les auteurs abordent cette question en examinant les acteurs impliqués, les institutions affectées et les contextes économiques et environnementaux qui entourent ces tendances. Cette étude explore les arrangements socialement denses entre Maasai et Kikuyu à Narok et leur rôle dans l'utilisation non violente de terres autrefois contestées. Dans le comté de Laikipia, les auteurs examinent le mode de coopération entre jeunes Samburu et Kikuyu au sein d'un réseau dangereux et néanmoins économiquement avantageux impliquant des vols de bétail. Ils reviennent sur l'histoire du peuplement rural dans la Vallée du Rift au Kenya, notamment dans les zones d’étude de Narok et Laikipia, et montrent comment l'accès à la terre et le droit d’établissement se négocient de manière pacifique, encourageant ainsi l'assimilation ethnique et les relations sociales et économiques de coopération. S'appuyant sur ce contexte et sur l'examen de leurs études de cas, les auteurs soutiennent que la formation d'alliances en milieu multi-ethnique a tendance à primer sur d'autres identités lorsque ces associations sont motivées par des avantages mutuels.

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