Project FamilEA seeks to understand the dynamics of family transformation in East Africa by combining four strategies:
- building a common interdisciplinary conceptual foundation;
- combining a range of methods from across the social sciences and the humanities to build a common core dataset;
- 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;
- 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. Using the countries’ two capitals as our starting point, we develop the concept of “family archipelago”, which challenges the image of the static household unit to trace the dynamic nature of family networks as circulating between multiple centres. We will trace those networks using an interdisciplinary practice-based approach that considers “doing families” as made of dense networks of exchange and support (care as well as economic) and constraints, inspired by Bourdieu’s practice theory and his conception of social capital. Such networks of exchange will be explored using multiple disciplines woven together through an interdisciplinary research design. The project enjoys a demographic/anthropological core consolidated by contributions from geography, history, and political science. The disciplines are represented through a team of 20 researchers, many of whom have a long collaboration history, and with due attention given to questions of representation (senior/junior, European/African, gender, etc.).