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Singing their way to ethnic peace in Kenya?

Kenyans have good reason to worry about ethnic violence in the next election — the track record is pretty dismal and the last election was particularly awful.

A college choir is taking the matter into its own hands, as reported in the Daily Nation and they are going to various hotspots, preaching peace and also developing computer training programs for unemployed youths who are easily manipulated to participate in such violence.

I certainly appreciate and applaud the initiative. Addressing unemployment, even on a small scale, seems like a good idea and is consistent with what we know about who tends to participate in violence. But does talking about peace, preaching its benefits, actually change behaviors? If anyone is aware of good research on this simple “treatment” — telling people of the virtues of non-violence — please send to me, and I would be glad to post.

About Evan Lieberman

I am a Professor of Political Science at MIT, and I conduct research, write, and teach about development, ethnic politics, and research methods.


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