In East Africa, the (kin) family as an unequal system of production and reproduction is key to personal and collective identity formation, orientation and meaning making, as well as support and interpersonal sustenance. Today, all indications are that family structure across the region is undergoing significant changes, with innovative kinship practices developing fast. Considering the family’s crucial and manyfold roles, such changes can be highly consequential. However, as they may not align with common conceptions of the family, they risk being unaccounted for. Moreover, definitions and approaches to the family differ across disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, and have not yet been reconciliated. Among scholars and policy makers alike, dominant approaches and conventions make it difficult to fully gauge these changes and understand their wider implications.
Project FamilEA seeks to understand the dynamics of family transformation in East Africa by combining four strategies:
1) building a common interdisciplinary conceptual foundation;
2) combining a range of methods from across the social sciences and the humanities to build a common core dataset;
3) implementing, in two neighbouring countries with distinct family patterns, a comparative study design involving men and women, younger and middle-aged adults, capital cities and countryside, and various socio-economic groups and trajectories;
4) including discipline-specific individual projects that will stand in close dialogue with one another and with the core theory and data sets.In particular, the project focuses on Kenya and Uganda, neighbouring countries where demographic changes show a mixed picture of similarities and differences.