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Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

Ms Caroline Mose


Caroline Mose
Ms Caroline Mose
Thesis title:
Kenyan Hiphop: Interrogating Socio-Political Interventions of Popular Youth Culture in Nairobi
Internal Supervisors


I am a PhD student sponsored by the Felix Trust, conducting research currently in Urban Popular Cultures. This is work earlier started during my MSc at the University of Oxford, UK.

PhD Research

The aim of this research is to interrogate various concepts of popular culture, the urban space, the youth and finally, its crux, that of hip-hop.  Mwenda Ntarangwi notes that despite the huge volume of reportage regarding hip-hop in East Africa, there is very little scholarly work done on the subject, especially in Kenya.  Therefore, this work began by building upon a prior exploratory research on Kenyan hip-hop that I had done as my Masters Dissertation at the University of Oxford, and continues to refer to work done by scholars on the subject in different parts of the world.
This research aims to continue an analysis of urban popular culture in Nairobi, and specifically, hip-hop culture.  Hip-hop, a global culture, now goes beyond the usual clichéd image of rap music, and begins to take shape in cultural discourse as a cultural movement.  In various parts of Africa, hip-hop as an urban cultural movement is increasingly taking on active socio-political activism. In Kenya, this has been the case from the 2002 presidential election that saw a concerted effort by hip-hop artists in political campaigns alongside politicians that saw the end of former president Moi’s 24 year hold on power. More recently, after the 2007 presidential poll left Kenya in chaos and bloodshed, hip-hop artists presented a memorandum of peace to mediator and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, pledging to use their influence to urge their youthful audiences to lay down arms and shun violence.
My research is interested in examining hip-hop culture and its current socio-political ideals, including the nature of its coagulation within the protest, urban space and how artists navigate the visceral nature of hip-hop and the demands of a more rational city structure as they wield a certain symbolic and cultural capital in influencing their audiences.

PhD Publications

  • 15th to 18th June, 2011 ‘Fou(r )(l) letter words: Analyzing the use of modern-day dozens in African Hip hop music’ Research paper for the forthcoming European Conference on African Studies Conference in Uppsala, Sweden, in June 15th to 18th 2011.
  • December 2010 ‘Mixes, Remixes and Packaging: Examining how African Hip-hop forms cope with the normative in a globalized world’ Research paper presented at the ‘Intellectual Property, Normative Orders and Globalization Workshop’ in Bad Homburg- Germany by the University of Frankfurt.
  • November 2010  ‘Iko nini?  Critiquing the use of traditional Western paradigms in interpreting the socio-political impact of Hip hop culture in (African) Kenyan Hip hop’ Chapter for the Norwegian Council for Africa’s Biannual Book on African Affairs, November 2010.
  • May 2010 ‘Swagga and Cred’: Negotiating boundaries between the visceral and rational city in Kenyan Hip hop culture Conference paper for the AEGIS Conference ‘Tuning in to African Cities: Popular Culture and Urban Experience in sub-Saharan Africa’ at University of Birmingham, UK
  • 2009-2010 ‘Jua Cali-Justice : Navigating the ‘Mainstream-Underground’ dichotomy in Kenyan Hip hop culture’ in Native Tongues: The African Hiphop Reader edited by Paul Khalil Saucier, African World Press
  • October 2009 ‘Ngeli Ya Genge : ‘Glocal’ Hiphop Culture and the quest for Self-Identity in East Africa’ Research paper presented at University of the Witwatersrand at the ‘Eastern African Literary and Intellectual Landscapes’ Conference, 23rd to 24th October 2009.
  • June 2009 ‘Urban Youth Cultures: debunking and reinforcing representations of Eastern Africa?’ Research paper presented at the inaugural SOAS Research Students Conference on ‘Regional Studies and Critical Perspectives on Regions’ (see http://rssconference.wordpress.com/programme/), June 4th 2009
  • 18th February 2009 ‘Nairobi’s ‘Glass House’ experience and post-election IDPs’ Op-Ed article for Pambazuka News, an online African Journal, Issue 420 at http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/54186
  • May 2008 ‘Skuodi Ya Watu Kumi na Mbili : The Discourses, Negotiation and Art In Underground Hip hop in Nairobi, Kenya’ Unpublished Masters Dissertation, University of Oxford, UK