Counting as citizens: Recognition of the Nubians in the 2009 Kenyan census

Published: 17/May/2011
Source: Ethnopolitics

Samantha Balaton-Chrimes, “Counting as Citizens: Recognition of the Nubians in the 2009 Kenyan census”, Ethnopolitics 2011, Vol.10, No.2, pp 205-218.

Abstract: This article uses the case of the Nubians in Kenya as an ethnic minority, and the 2009 Kenyan census as a particular form of recognition, to engage in a particular aspect of the debates surrounding the politics of recognition: the perceived competitive nature of the relationship between national and subnational groups, in this case ethnic groups. Using data obtained during a 6-month qualitative study conducted over the census period, this paper evaluates the response of some members of the Nubian community to their participation in the census, focusing on its most controversial question, ‘What tribe are you?’ The article concludes that the dynamic between ethnic and national identities and allegiances, when the former are recognized, can be the site of agency, participatory citizenship, and therefore also democratic equality, action and interaction.

External file: here

Themes: Discrimination, Ethnic/Racial/Religious, Identity Documents
Regions: East Africa, Kenya
Year: 2009, 2011