Lived realities and local meaning-making in defining violent extremism in Kenya: implications for preventing and countering violent extremism in policy and practice

Fathima Azmiya Badurdeen, Sahla Aroussi, Michaelina Jakala

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Violent extremism is an ambiguous and politically loaded concept, and – at the national level – the parameters used to define it are usually framed by the state, powerful ruling elites, and members of the international community, either directly or indirectly through donor-funded projects. Although different types of violent extremism and extremist movements exist in Kenya, donors and the state often focus on religiously-inspired groups such as Al-Shabaab, the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, and affiliated networks such as the Al-Muhajiroun, Al-Hijra, and Jaysh Al-Ayman. However, at a community level, participants in our body map workshops highlighted gang violence, police brutality, ethnically motivated violence, marginalisation, discrimination, and gender-based violence as priorities in defining violent extremism. We conclude that constructions of violent extremism at the local level are shaped by lived experiences of everyday insecurities influenced by gender, ethnicity, social status, location, and interactions with the state. To effectively address violent extremism in Kenya and beyond, its definition needs to be contextualised in ways that take into consideration local perspectives and everyday experiences of violence and insecurity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalCritical Studies on Terrorism
Volume16
Issue number1
Early online date6 Sept 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript version of the following article, accepted for publication in Critical Studies on Terrorism. Badurdeen, FA, Aroussi, S & Jakala, M 2023, 'Lived realities and local meaning-making in defining violent extremism in Kenya: implications for preventing and countering violent extremism in policy and practice', Critical Studies on Terrorism, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 1-22.

It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Funder

This research was made possible through a generous British Academy, Tackling the UK’s International Challenges Programme 2018 grant (Award Reference: IC3\100293). The first author would also like to thank the School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds for the Post-doctoral Visiting Research Fellowship from January 2021 to January 2022 to complete the writing of this article. The authors would also like to thank our partner, the artist and curator, Xavier Verhoest, for his contribution to the research and particularly the body mapping workshops. We would like to thank the research participants in our study for their commitment to this project. We also would like to acknowledge and thank the Technical University of Mombasa and particularly to the Vice Chancellor Prof. Layla Abubakar, as well as the University of Leeds for their support with this research. Finally, we would like to thank the editors, and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback during the revisions of this article.

Keywords

  • Violent extremism
  • everyday security
  • identity
  • participatory methods
  • Kenya

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