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Satire and the politics of corruption in Kenya

Harrington, John ORCID: and Manji, Ambreena ORCID: 2013. Satire and the politics of corruption in Kenya. Social and Legal Studies 22 (1) , pp. 3-23. 10.1177/0964663912458113

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Corruption in Kenya has been a matter of intense concern for foreign donors and the international financial institutions. External efforts to change the ‘governance culture’ in this regard are not simply instrumental, composed of material restrictions and incentives. They are also inherently rhetorical, seeking to establish the plausibility of a set of values rooted in political economy. This paper examines two widely reported speeches of a former British High Commissioner that can be read together as a highly figurative satire on political standards in Kenya. Having developed a reading of anti-corruption governance as satire, we extend it to the role of the legal profession in the illegal and irregular allocation of public land. We argue that, as well as demonstrating an application of the rhetorical analysis of neo-liberal governance, the case of land grabbing in Kenya also highlights the instability of many of the key binary oppositions underpinning dominant anti-corruption strategies. This instability can be understood in rhetorical terms by drawing on the work of post-colonial writers and critics on the category of excremental satire. Rather than a clear binary opposition, these suggest the interrelation, or more precisely the mutual contamination, of corruption and normal capitalist accumulation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Governance; rhetoric; excremental satire; primitive accumulation; Constitution of Kenya 2010; legal profession; land grabbing
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 0964-6639
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2022 11:49

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