Accepted paper:

Shifting Allegiances among Urban Kenyans: How Urban-Rural Linkages are Maintained or Replaced

Authors:

Rachel Beatty Riedl (Northwestern University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper breaks down a dichotomous conceptualization of urban and rural citizens and uses new survey data from Nairobi, Kenya, to demonstrate the multi-dimensional linkages that connect urban residents to the rural periphery.

Paper long abstract:

Given the important demographic trends of rapid urbanization across sub-Saharan Africa, how are the politics transformed if at all? This paper breaks down a dichotomous conceptualization of urban and rural citizens and uses new survey data from Nairobi, Kenya, to demonstrate the multi-dimensional linkages that connect urban residents to the rural periphery. Yet not all of these dimensions - such as economic diversification and investment, social networks, spiritual practices, administrative procedures, judicial processes, and political influence - have equal effect for urban residents' identity and political behavior. We investigate three inter-related questions: What specific connections constitute meaningful urban-rural linkages, and how are they adapted and transformed by different types of citizens? Which mechanisms can potentially diminish or replace ties to the rural world for the urban citizen? And how do these changes influence patterns of ethnic self-identification and political behavior? In sum, we assess the degree to which different dimensions of linkage have specific consequences for identity politics in the contemporary African city.

panel P049
Urban Africa, Voice, and Politics