The narrative of Kenya's ‘neglected’ boy child Isabel Pike – Rendez-vous de la recherche
Narratives of Neglect: Kenya’s Boy Child and the Gendered Language of Grievance
In the wake of global development efforts to empower girls and women, a narrative has emerged in Kenya that “the boy child has been forgotten.” Drawing on media material and ethnographic interviews, this lecture examines how and why the narrative resonates amongst different constituencies, from gender equality advocates to men without work. Across this wide range of actors, the boy child narrative is often presented as a claim that is both unorthodox and authentic—a culturally pertinent counterpoint to more standard frames of vulnerability as stipulated, for example, in Kenya’s constitution or by international donors. As such, the narrative becomes a way to both speak for and from “the ground,” a term used across different discursive arenas. Despite their relationship to larger structures and social issues, these grievances are often about more intimate matters such as poor men turning to alcohol or adult sons failing to support their aging mothers. From this, I argue that the articulation of gendered grievance is contingent not only on perceptions of which framings of injustice are politically effective but also on cultural understandings more broadly of what hardship means to men and women.
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