Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Drinking, despair and the state and ethnography of a brewing subculture in rural Kenya
Author: Howland, O. F.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5993 0982
Awarding Body: Liverpool John Moores University
Current Institution: Liverpool John Moores University
Date of Award: 2016
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Thesis embargoed until 15 Sep 2018
Access from Institution:
Home brewed alcohol is responsible for a significant proportion of alcohol related harms across Africa, yet in Kenya where the problem receives much media attention, pombe ya kienyeji (home brew) has been significantly under-researched. Existing research offers limited information regarding the personal stories and daily lives of people within this sub-culture which would inform us about the social and political contexts of alcohol. This thesis is a description of the sub-culture of home-made fermented beers in a rural, geographically isolated and politically marginalised region of southern Kenya. The research was conducted using a mixed methods ethnographic approach including participant observation, focus groups, informal interviews, drawing exercises with children, body mapping, life story interviews and oral histories, community mapping, reflexive focus groups, photography, and the ethnographer working as a Mama Pima (the woman who serves the beer). Research took place over a period of three years from 2011-2014, with around 24 months spent in the field. Home brewed beers are an integral part of the local economy, providing employment and financial independence for many women, enabling them to send their children to school and look after their families. The study uses the concepts of structural violence, and demasculinity, as analytical perspectives to explain and rationalise the behaviour of drinkers, brewers and other relevant actors within ‘Kijiji’, the study site. These chapters make the case that state level structural violence is a precipitator of alcoholism, and that domestic violence witnessed from an early age is normalised in many households. For the women who brew, a climate of mistrust and fear of the authorities pervades everyday life. Focus group discussions shed light on the changing role of alcohol within society and the different meanings ascribed to it since independence. Life stories indicate that violence witnessed and suffered in childhood are precursors to problematic drinking behaviour in later life. There are clearly defined gender roles in production and consumption of alcohol with women primarily undertaking production and sale of brew, and men dominating the drinking scene. A full description of the brews and brewing process, environments, and drinking dens are recorded. Whether actual levels of consumption have increased in real terms is beyond the scope of this study. The empirical results demonstrate that structural violence is deeply embedded in rural Kenyan society and provide an alternative to the commonly held belief that brewers and drinkers are deviant or criminal. Brewers and drinkers still manage to create for themselves a meaningful life within this context and construct realities in which they can express self-worth and respect. This study makes an addition to the existing body of literature concerning alcohol and health in East Africa, and provides a detailed insight into the daily lives and motivations, local realities and challenges for people within the sub-culture of home brew in rural Kenya.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform ; RA Public aspects of medicine