Poverty, Masculine Violence, and the Transformation of Men: Ethnographic Notes from Kenyan Slums


Izugbara, Chimaraoke. 2011. “Poverty, Masculine Violence, and the Transformation of Men: Ethnographic Notes from Kenyan Slums.” In Men and Masculinities Around the World: Transforming Men’s Practices, 235–46. New York: Palgrave Macmillan US.

Author: Chimaraoke Izugbara


"The intersections of violence and masculinity have been studied in a variety of social contexts (Bourgois 1996; Messerschmidt 2004; Mullins 2006). Missing in these studies, however, are grounded accounts of how a hazardous sense of threatened masculinity and notions of masculine dignity constructed around interpersonal violence become part of the everyday thinking of some men. Put differently, how does the belief that self-esteem, material worth, and possibilities for life improvement can only be realized through violence and ruthlessness become a key element of poor men's social and cultural outlook? Drawing on my fieldwork in the slums of Kenya, I link masculine violence to the dynamic association, which men make, between their private and shared marginalization and livelihood misfortunes and the everyday cruelty of others as well as the invasive belief that one has to both vigorously resist violence and deploy it in order to be safe. This disastrous sense of an inherently vicious world interacts dynamically with the lived reality of a constant state of emergency that interminably banishes men from dynamic access to public goods, to the realm of socioeconomic marginality, insecurity, and participation in drugs and other illicit economies that endorse aggression and brutality (Bourgois 1996; Groes-Green 2009, 2010). The current chapter is about the social production of violent slum men and the critical role of livelihoods in masculine violence as an everyday behavior deployed and suffered by poor slum men in Kenya. (Izugbara, 2011: 235)."

Topics: Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Livelihoods, Violence Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya

Year: 2011

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