Critiquing the valorization of democracy as a means of containing violence and stabilizing political contestation, this book draws links between the democratization process and sexual/gendered violence observed against women during electioneering periods in Kenya. The book shows the contradictory relationship between democracy and gendered violence as being largely influenced in the first instance by the capitalist interests vested in the colonial state and its imperative to exploit laboring women; secondly, in the nature of the postcolonial state and politics largely captured by ethnic, bourgeois class interests; and third, influenced by neoliberal political ideology that has remained largely disarticulated from women's structural positions in Kenyan society. It argues that colonial capitalist interests established certain patterns of gender exploitation that extended into the postcolonial period such that the indigenous bourgeoisie took the form of an ethnicized elite. Ethnicity shaped politics and neoliberal political ideology further blocked women's integration into politics in substantive ways. It concludes that it is not so much the norms and values of liberal democracy that assist in understanding women's exclusion, but rather the structural dynamics that have shaped women's experiences of democratic politics. In this way, gender violence in the context of democratization and electoral violence with its gendered manifestation can be fully understood as deeply embedded in the history of the structural dynamics of colonialism, capitalism, and patriarchalism in Kenya.
Publisher: Lexington Books
Number of pages: 236
Weight: 503 g
Dimensions: 239 x 158 x 23 mm
Lyn Ossome's beautifully written book is a richly documented, thoroughly researched discussion of the connections between class, ethnicity, and sexual violence in the context of Kenya's democratization. One of its outstanding features is the use of a historical materialist framework to problematize the ethnicization of laboring women and to account for the production of postcolonial subjects who commit and experience sexual violence. She argues that physical and material violence are key starting points for a feminist inquiry and deeper interrogation of the historical production of violence that persists in the contemporary liberal, democratic, and postcolonial state. In doing so, she presents an unremitting exploration of questions that are usually sidelined in scholarship on democratization. -- Manali Desai, University of Cambridge
Lyn Ossome is at the forefront of the younger generation of African scholars, inter-disciplinary in orientation, determined to understand African realities in historical terms, and driven by a deep sense of social justice. States of Violence is an outstanding example of this new scholarship. -- Mahmood Mamdani, Herbert Lehman Professor of Government, Columbia University
This is a piece of work that presents a highly sophisticated take on the layered nature of sexual violence as a facet of cracks in democratic practice in Kenya. It is a great resource for African Feminist theorization on the gendered nature of and state formation in postcolonial Africa. -- Josephine Ahikire, Makerere University