Final conference, Nairobi, 30/31 of May 2017.

14 October -Roundtable on Cultural Rights and Post-Conflict Transformation: Perspectives from Kenya and Northern Ireland

anti-fgm-campaign-posterWhile drawing on the experience of very different contexts, the research from Kenya and Northern Ireland highlights the role that cultural practices and notions of tradition can play in societies moving out of conflict.

Our research has involved, among other things, interrogating cultural heritage practices and discourses, as well as notions of community, identity, ethnicity, belonging and nationhood in the post-colony. Kenya is also, most importantly, a post-conflict society scarred not only by British colonial-era violence, but also by bouts of largely state-orchestrated violence since independence in 1963, notably the post-election violence of 2007-8. In Northern Ireland disputes over cultural practices and perceived restrictions on traditional rights have also become prominent over recent years. Protests and tensions over parades, visual displays and bonfires have led to accusations of a ‘culture war’ being voiced in some quarters. In June 2016 the Northern Ireland Executive established a Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition to look at this broad area as part of a wider process of addressing a range of issues associated with the legacy of the conflict and inter-communal tensions.

You can read more about the event and listen to the debates at the event by following this link.


12 October  – Cultural Rights and Constitutional Change in Kenya: Progress and Challenges, London

This one-day colloquium at the Institute for Commonwealth Studies, was the main UK event for Cultural Rights and Kenya’s New Constitution.  This three-year research project – a collaboration between British and Kenyan scholars – is the first study of its kind. It looks at the different ways in which Kenyans are exercising new constitutional rights to culture. Some of these can be contentious, for example when ‘traditional custom’ comes into conflict with ‘modernity’ and human rights. More broadly, we are exploring how Kenyans are engaging with notions of culture, in the devolved counties as well as at national level, and asking, what has changed in cultural terms since the new constitution was passed in 2010?

You can read more about the event and listen to the papers and the discussion by following this link.



3-8 June 2016 – The Association of Critical Heritage Studies Conference Montreal, Canada

We convened a panel on ‘Heritage and Subversion in Contemporary Africa’ at The Association of Critical Heritage Studies Conference in Montreal.

You can read more about it on the blog.

20 April 2016 – Cultural Rights in Action: from global policy to local practice

The workshop at the BIEA, Nairobi started with an overview of cultural rights provisions in international legal instruments, in order to provide some global context. The focus then shifted to local examples of cultural rights in action, with a keynote paper from High Court Judge Joel Ngugi (Judiciary Training Institute) about his work with elders on alternative (aka customary) justice systems in Kenya. The project team presented preliminary research findings from case studies on pastoralist responses to development interventions in northern Kenya; FGM/C and alternatives to girls’ initiation; and issues arising from a community land claim in western Kenya.

16 December 2015 – Regional Workshop on Public-Private Partnerships in Agriculture and its effects on Food Security and Small Food Producers

Steve Ouma Akoth spoke on the subject of ‘Mega PPPs in Africa and its impact on food sovereignty in the region’.

This event was organised by CSO Partnership on Development Effectiveness (CPDE), People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) and IBON International.

Full Details – CPDE Rural Workshop Africa

13-14 November 2015 –Negotiating Cultural Rights: International conference on cultural rights, University of Copenhagen. 

International Conference at Copenhagen University.The University of Copenhagen organized an international conference on cultural rights based on the reports by Farida Shaheed, the current UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights. Farida Shaheed was present at this conference during which international experts commented on each of her reports related to different themes: intellectual property rights, cultural heritage, artistic freedom etc. Farida Shaheed’s successor as Special Rapporteur, Karima Bennoune, was also present. Dr Lotte Hughes responded to ‘Report 2010 – Implementing cultural rights (Nature, issues at stake and challenges)’.

You can read Helle Porsdam’s report for the Carnegie Council for ethics in international affairs and listen to her interviewing Farida Shaheed on The University of Copenhagen website.

8-10 July 2015 – ECAS 6, Paris

ECAS 6, Paris 2015

ECAS 6, Paris 2015

The 6th European Conference on African Studies was hosted by the Sorbonne, Paris this year.  The conference theme was Collective Mobilisations in Africa: Contestation, resistance, revolt.  We organised a panel entitled Struggles for Cultural Rights in East Africa, Amidst Constitutional Change and the Reassertion of Traditional Authority. It included papers from Lotte Hughes, Steve Akoth, Harriet Deacon, Gabrilelle Lynch and Florian Kern. You can read more about it on our blog. 

14th April 2015 -First Project Workshop at BIEA

Chair Steve Akoth with Jill Ghai, Patrick Onyango and David Mbuthia

Chair Steve Akoth with Jill Ghai, Patrick Onyango and David Mbuthia

On the 14th of April We held a one day workshop entitled Cultural Rights in Critical Perspective: a Socio-cultural Conundrum at the British Institute in East Africa (BIEA). Nairobi. We invited a wide range of stakeholders and had approximately 40 attendees. The day was divided into three different discussion panels on human rights, land rights and devolution. Use the links to find a blog post on each topic or read the full report below.

Cultural Rights in Critical Perspective: A Socio-legal Conundrum.

17-21 September 2014 – Storymoja

Muthoni Garland, founder of Storymoja festival introducing the artists (Lotte Hughes second from right)

Muthoni Garland, founder of Storymoja festival introducing the artists (Lotte Hughes second from right)

Project members took part in a panel discussion on cultural rights at Storymoja National Museum Nairobi in September 2014,organised by PI Lotte Hughes. The event was recorded by Research Associate Zoe Cormack, with John Arum. Kenya’s 2010 constitution gives an explicit place to culture and the panel was convened to discuss the implications of cultural rights provisions in Kenya’s new constitution. Big questions, focused on the potential for tensions between sub-national cultural identities and nationhood.

Read more here.

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