Who are Kenya’s 42(+) tribes? The census and the political utility of magical uncertainty

@article{BalatonChrimes2020WhoAK,
  title={Who are Kenya’s 42(+) tribes? The census and the political utility of magical uncertainty},
  author={Samantha Balaton-Chrimes},
  journal={Journal of Eastern African Studies},
  year={2020},
  volume={15},
  pages={43 - 62}
}
ABSTRACT The idea that Kenya is made up of 42(+) tribes is widespread, but the origins, nature and consequences of any list are not well-known. This article compares ethnic classifications in all Kenyan censuses to demonstrate the origins of the ‘42’ in (only) the 1969 census, and the multiple political purposes of classifying and counting. To make sense of why the 42(+) remains significant, I argue a cultivated vagueness provides a sense of consistency, linking a national past to present and… 
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