My initial interest in rural Kenyan society was inspired by a fascination with the promise of an egalitarian society, the way in which lineage-based African societies were often described in anthropological literature. My doctoral research focused on the nature of social stratification in rural society, focusing on age and gender as the principal vectors of inequality, then factors such as education, employment, and income in drawing lines within rural society.
My research was carried out under the auspices of the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Nairobi in the late 1980s. It was funded by an International Doctoral Research Fellowship for Africa of the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council for dissertation research, by a National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant, by a J. F. Enders Fellowship of Yale University Graduate School for dissertation research, and Yale Center for International and Area Studies Grant-in-Aid of Research on Doctoral Dissertation with permission of the government of Kenya and the Ministry of Science and Technology.
It led to the completion of my doctoral dissertation, Cultural Expressions of Socioeconomic Differentiation among the Kuria of Kenya at Yale University in 1992. Immediately afterward, I accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at the Australian National University.
Socioeconomic inequality, gender, age, and cultural change have remained topics of investigation throughout my career.
Insights into Kenya’s 2007 Post-election Violence
Transmission of Privilege: A Case Study of Rural Kenya
Demography and Economy in a Rural Community
Students, Schools, and Socioeconomic Change: Education as a Factor of Social and Economic Change in Rural Kenya
Population and Development in Rural Kenya (unpublished)
Other work in the field
I organized a panel on Agro-Circulation, with Jennifer Coffman (James Madison University) for the American Anthropological Association Meetings, in New Orleans, LA, in 2010, and one on Discourses on Maendeleo, with Katherine Snyder (James Madison University) for the American Anthropological Association Meeting, Washington, D.C., in 1997.
Further, I have given papers at the Society for Applied Anthropology meeting Santa Fe, NM, in 2017; at American Anthropological Association Meetings, New Orleans, LA in 2010; at the joint Humanities Research Centre and the African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific conference at the University of New South Wales, Sydney in 1995; and at the Anthropology Department Faculty Seminar Series, at the Research School of Pacific Studies, Institute for Advanced Studies, the Australian National University in 1993 on various issues that can be subsumed under the general topic of political economy, the study of how positions and relations of power affect economic opportunities and outcomes. As I learned from the outset of my research, heterogeneity, and conflict of interest are essential dynamics of political economy.
Courses taught on the subject
- Making a Living
- Production, Consumption, and Exchange
- Colonialism and Its Aftermath
- Other People’s Worlds
- Global Capitalism
Land settlement patterns
Papers and Talks
“ ‘Authentic’ Voices in Economic and Social Development in Rural Kenya,” presented in session on Dilemmas of Engaged Anthropology: The Politics of Methods and Managing Multiple ‘Authentic’ Voices at Society for Applied Anthropology meeting in Santa Fe, NM, March 28-April 1, 2017.
“The Political Economy of Smallholder Agriculture,” paper presented at the American Anthropological Association Meetings, New Orleans, LA, November 17-21, 2010.
“Transmission of Privilege: A Case Study of Rural Kenya,” Humanities Research Centre and the African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific Conference, What Is Happening in Africa Today? New College, University of New South Wales, Sydney, September 28–30, 1995.
“Age and Gender, Power and Authority: Socioeconomic Change in Rural Kenya,” presented at the Anthropology Department Faculty Seminar Series, Research School of Pacific Studies, Institute for Advanced Studies, the Australian National University, August 4, 1993.