Past events

Research in Progress: Gemma Aellah
Friday 27 March 2015, 04:30pm
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Friday 27th March, 4.30 pm

Hustling in the village: rural predictabilities, tensions and the flow of life in Western Kenya.

Gemma Aellah, LSHTM

This event is free, but places must be booked.  To book tickets please go to:

In the context of the 2007 post-election violence and anticipated tensions around the 2013 elections, young males in Western Kenya have come to be seen as a high-risk category for violence and unpredictability. A considerable amount of anthropological research on African youth has focused on uncertain lives and risky futures. Yet, an overwhelming feeling throughout long term ethnographic fieldwork in a group of villages of rural Western Kenya was the predictability and familiarity of daily life.

This paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted between these two elections in the opposition heartland. The majority of  youth in these village dream of, but can’t access, formal economic opportunities, turning instead to “hustling” – here meaning a combination of farming, motorbike riding, small businesses, youth schemes etc… and sometimes activities considered “shady.” This paper explores the ebb and flow of rural life, through the fortunes, dreams and ambitions of one particular youth group formed by its members as a means of coming together and finding viable economic pathways through life.  The paper tries to find a place for such youth in the context of wider discourses about an East African youth crisis, citizenship and violence.

Location 3