Accepted paper:

Pokot's Public Spaces - a Case Study for Rural Civil Society

Authors:

Nurit Hashimshony-Yaffe (The Academic College of Tel Aviv Yaffo)

Paper short abstract:

The paper challenge the notion of urban civil society and asks -Is rurality a space for civil society? What qualifies a rural civil society? It is based on field study within the Pokot in Northern Kenya and serve as a case study to research current civil society in Kenya.

Paper long abstract:

The academic discussion on 'civil society' nurtured during the 1980's and looked at state- society relations (Young, 1994). Comprehensive scholarly studies exists on civil society in Africa, as an 'arena for public life' (Migdal, 1990) as a political space (Barkan, 1994) and an autonomy sphere from the state (Bayart, 1986 ; Bratton, 1989; Chazan 1990 ;Diamond 2008 ) . African civil societies were comprised of; Workers and trade unions, women, youth and students organizations, human rights organizations and many others. Their focus was towards state and government offices- mainly in urban centres. Not much has been written on civil society spaces and actions outside urban setting. The paper aim to challenge this notion of urban civil society and asks -Is rurality is a new space for civil society? What qualifies a rural civil society? And is it different and how, from urban civil society? The proposed paper is based on empirical field study within the Pokot area in Northern Kenya ( July- Aug. 2015 ) and serve as a case study to research current civil society in Kenya. Collective actions used by Pokot people as ethnic associations, social organizing for mutual aid and social organizations for more general aims- are at the centre of this research. It will cope with the known dichotomy of Urban- Rural, the ethnic character of associations and its implication, and ask for the presence of civil society in peoples' lives outside the big cities.

panel P025
Changing spaces for rural and urban civil society movements in Africa