Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Religion, Lafayette College

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2004
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Chicago
"The Kikuyu are Oathing Again": Neotraditionalism, Criminality, and the State in Kenya

This project explores the uncanny recurrence of Kenya's revolutionary history in the form of a religio-political movement known as "Mungiki sect." This youth movement attempts to imitate certain practices associated with Kenya's anti-colonial insurgency and Kikuyu civil war, the Mau Mau rebellion. Yet, because Mungiki mobilizes those aspects of Mau Mau that Kenyans fear and have thus been quarrantined from nationalist nostalgia and structures of "legitmate" state authority (particuarly Mau Mau's ritual forms), Mungiki has become the new criminal type upon which the new govemement of President Mwai Kibaki is enacting its "rational" form of governance. This project therefore explores the relationship between history, ritual, and criminality at workin the Kenyan political imagination at a key moment in it political history - the end of President Daniel Arap Moi's twenty-four year reign.