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Journal article

“I am African, iko nini” : Generational Conflict and the Politics of Being in Nairobi


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Africa | Eastern Africa

In Nairobi, young urban professionals self-confidently position themselves as Africans, while they are simultaneously reproached for being ‘un-African’. I explore this economy of claims and how it relates to the way the lifestyles of young professionals become the focus of generational conflict. I follow how various actors use the notions African, Western, modern and traditional as reified concepts that comprise a discursive field of practices. Disentangling public debates and individual self-perceptions, it becomes clear that matters of cultural heritage, gerontocratic relations and intergenerational expectations, and shifts in gender and sexuality reflect a field of tension and ambivalence. Young urban professionals display a vibrant cosmopolitan way of being and are the visible results of social transformations that started with their grandparents.


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