Intersections of Insecurity, Nurturing, and Resilience: A Case Study of Turkana Women of Kenya

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6 Scopus citations


In a backdrop of low-intensity violence, this article examines how Turkana women of northern Kenya work to maintain culturally honed nurturing practices. Often referred to as AK-47 raids, this violence disrupts even the most basic subsistence tasks. Drawing on case studies and ethnographic interviews, I document how Turkana women reimagine nurturing practices using the “creative resources” at hand. Such resourcefulness includes widows breaking with levirate marriage systems, seeking new forms of support by leaving the pastoral sector to earn income to feed their children, and planting seeds when no one expected success. Further, these acts offer insights into women's resilience by documenting the sociocultural and structural challenges experienced as they reconstitute their lives. With a growing global health emphasis on the importance of early child development, these ethnographically grounded case studies offer insights into the lengths families will go to and the challenges they face to maintain practices of care. [mothering, gender, anthropology of food, conflict, pastoralism, Kenya, East Africa].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-137
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Anthropologist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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