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Learning to live together : a study of the changing structures of everyday life within Kipsigis farming communities in western Kenya (progress).

Author: Donovan, Michael M

Awarding University: New York University, USA

Level : PhD

Year: 1993

Holding Libraries: University Microfilms International ;

Subject Terms: Kipsigis (African people) ; Ethnology ; Social change ; Social conditions and trends ; Farming ; Ndaraweta Sublocation, Kericho District ;


This dissertation describes the transformation of an East African landscape, Ndaraweta sublocation, Kericho District, in western Kenya since the late colonial era. It focuses on the changing structures of everyday life: patterns of land use, cooperative work groups, villages, farms, families. These are changes which Kipsigis are likely to describe as 'progress', a term they freely translate by the phrase bandap tai, which literally means traveling ahead or moving forward. Progress is shown to be a contested ideology which people employ to advance separate and at times competing ideas about history, person, and place and to locate themselves within a wider political economy and political culture. Ethnographically, this work considers the ways Kipsigis employ their notions of progress to legitimize their farming strategies, advance their claims to land, labor and other resources and more broadly, to organize their experience of rapid structural and geographic change. Many of the practical and existential problems of living and working together on family farms are described. Farm surveys, and other micro-economic data provide empirical ballast for subsequent discussions of the transformation of values attached to land, labor, and livestock. It is shown that as farms grow smaller and are worked more intensively Kipsigis must revise some of their most basic cultural notions about autonomy, intimacy, gender, work, mobility, and space.