Sheely, Ryan. 2016. “Regimes And Randomization: The Politics Of Fieldwork In Contemporary Kenya”. Social Science Quarterly 92.
Little is known about how the legacy of authoritarian politics shapes research in countries that have recently transitioned to democracy. How do previous periods of authoritarian rule shape field research that takes place after a regime transition? To what extent are authoritarian tendencies present in the practice of quantitative field research in a democracy? I engage in a reflexive and historical analysis of a number of episodes of field research in Kenya. I describe and categorize the two authoritarian political regimes that have governed Kenya: the colonial regime that governed the country from the early 20th century to independence in 1963 and the bureaucratic executive authoritarian regime that governed the country from 1963 until the 2002 election. I then analyze how the historical legacy of each of these regimes shapes the practice of research in contemporary Kenya, using both my own experiences and historical examples.