Project SALMEA examines how men and women in contemporary East Africa seek—whether successfully or not—to access and transmit wealth, power, respectability, and authority. These goals may pose a formidable challenge as fast-changing social realities informed by structural change are fundamentally affecting local practices and representations of a well-led life and the practical paths for its achievement.
The project explores the dialectic relations between forms of self- accomplishment and repertoires of morality by focusing on four central themes: wealth, violence, religion, and kinship. They are examined from their economic, political, social, and symbolic dimensions by our interdisciplinary research team and partners.Our approach uses ethnographic field data, historical records and the relevant academic literature on questions of authority, ownership, inheritance, and kinship in East Africa.
Through case studies primarily based in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda,
project SALMEA is attentive to social trends specific to East Africa while contributing to global scholarly debates about the connection between values and action, ethics and praxis. Special attention is paid to the ways in which social categories such as ethnicity, race, class, age, generation, gender, and religion intersect in the quest for self-accomplishment.
Uncovering the opportunities, obstacles and constrains that frame individual trajectories, we also seek to provide practical insights to governments, civil society actors, and development organizations in their efforts to help individuals and groups improve their lives and livelihood.