Security and Social Transformation: An Anthropology of Kenya’s War on Terror, 1998-2018


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This project is a study of the war on terror in Kenya, examining how security practices and counterterrorism are transforming urban space, state power, and political identity. Since the bombing of the US embassy in 1998, Kenya has experienced a number of terrorist attacks that have had a profound impact on the country. Issues around security have assumed a place at the center of national politics, transforming the institutions of state security. The dissertation’s historical and ethnographic chapters examine the colonial origins of counterterrorism and trace how police, activists, elites and NGOs navigate the social and spatial processes of the war on terror. Using archival research, participant observation, and in-depth interviews, this project studies the broader security-led transformation of Kenyan society over the past two decades.