The Cultural Rights and Kenya’s New Constitution project, which is funded by the ESRC, is researching how Kenyans are exercising their new constitutional rights to culture.
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.
This three-year research 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. The project will be working closely with The Katiba Institute and The British Institute in Eastern Africa, Nairobi.
The project is the first study of its kind and will document and analyse the impact of the new constitution’s cultural rights provisions on Kenyan society, and explore how cultural rights claims could affect social cohesion and peace building. It will organise events in Kenya and in the UK and will produce timely information for policy makers, heritage managers and stakeholders including ordinary citizens, NGOs and lawyers. This will have practical uses at a crucial time for Kenya, as constitutional change transforms the country.
For more information visit the project’s 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.