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Scholars 2009 - 2010

Betty Irungu

Betty Irungu, Political Scinece
“Ethnic Identity and Election Violence”
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Tyson King-Meadows
Expected Graduation Date: May 2010  

The principle importance of this study is that it aims to evaluate two major concepts. The first concept is the role that identity politics play within Kenyan politics. The second concept to be evaluated is the effect of the reforms of the governance in Kenya, on citizenship. This project is an eight week cumulative study, and is divided into three components. The first component analyzes how social informal institutions, such as ethnic identity inform political culture, through open ended interviews of targeted citizen stake holders through focus group interviews. The second component, content analysis of newspapers in Kenya, analyzes the frequency of ethnic based terms and themes in print media, and the effect on the electoral process. The final component is the analysis of the semi structured interviews; identification of patterns and analysis of publishes regional survey data from the Afrobarometer. Kenyan political culture heavily favors regional and tribal stratification rather than national identity. Tribalism, which sparked and acerbated the election violence following the December 2007 General election, reinforces regional identity, rather than multiethnic national identity. The main battle should be over preserving political institutions which have promoted growth, and not the futile attempt to save the current political institutions. This project will establish where and how this battle will be fought.