This three-year ESRC-funded research project will document and analyse the impact of the new constitution’s cultural rights provisions on Kenyan society.

Kenya’s 2010 constitution (katiba in Kiswahili) enshrines rights to culture and cultural heritage, which Kenyans have never previously enjoyed. They include for example rights to ‘ancestral’ land, protection for endangered languages, indigenous knowledge, and the right to ‘enjoy’ one’s culture. Cultural rights claims could have far-reaching implications for peace and social unification, and there is a risk of cultural rights clashing with human rights, especially those of women and children. The research will explore how cultural rights claims could affect social cohesion and peace building. We will also be examining how devolution to new county governments is affecting how people engage with culture, and changes in heritage management, at a local level.

The project will investigate how Kenyans are exercising new constitutional rights to culture through a series of case studies tracking the ‘social lives’ of rights claims. Outputs will include producing timely information for policy makers, heritage managers and stakeholders (including ordinary citizens), NGOs and lawyers. A conference and workshops in Nairobi will facilitate cross-sectoral dialogue on the implications of claiming cultural rights. We will also be holding events in London and Belfast.

For more information visit our website. The multimedia blog will follow the progress of the research, provide updates and information on publications, events and other activities related to our work and cultural rights and constitutional reform in Kenya more broadly. Regular updates will also be posted to the project Twitter account.

This project, based at The Open University, is a collaboration between British and Kenyan scholars. The research is led by Principal Investigator Dr. Lotte Hughes, with other UK-based staff Dr. Zoe Cormack, Dr. Nicola Stylianou, Heather Scott and consultant Dr. Harriet Deacon. The main Kenyan collaborators are legal anthropologist Dr. Steve Ouma Akoth and historian Gordon Omenya. The project is affiliated to the Department of History and the Institute for Anthropology, Gender and African Studies at the University of Nairobi. We will be working closely with The Katiba Institute and The British Institute in Eastern Africa, Nairobi.

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The Arts Faculty of The Open University is a world leader in supported Open Learning, and one of the best institutions in the world for arts and humanities. You can follow us on Twitter @OUArtsFaculty and on Facebook.
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