Cover of War-Making as Worldmaking by Samar Al-Bulushi
War-Making as Worldmaking
Kenya, the United States, and the War on Terror
Samar Al-Bulushi

November 2024
248 pages.
from $25.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503639744
Paperback ISBN: 9781503640917



Since Kenya's invasion of Somalia in 2011, the Kenyan state has been engaged in direct combat with the Somali militant group Al-Shabaab, conducting airstrikes in southern Somalia and deploying heavy-handed police tactics at home. As the hunt for suspects has expanded within Kenya, Kenyan Muslims have been subject to disappearances and extrajudicial killings at the hands of U.S.-trained Kenyan police.

War-Making as Worldmaking explores the entanglement of militarism, imperialism, and liberal-democratic governance in East Africa today. Samar Al-Bulushi argues that Kenya's emergence as a key player in the "War on Terror" is closely linked—but not reducible to—the U.S. military's growing proclivity to outsource the labor of war. Attending to the cultural politics of security, Al-Bulushi illustrates that the war against Al-Shabaab has become a means to produce new fantasies, emotions, and subjectivities about Kenya's place in the world. Meanwhile, Kenya's alignment with the U.S. provides cover for the criminalization and policing of the country's Muslim minority population.

How is life lived in a place that is not understood to be a site of war, yet is often experienced as such by its targets? This book weaves together multiple scales of analysis, asking what a view from East Africa can tell us about the shifting configurations and expansive geographies of post-9/11 imperial warfare.

About the author

Samar Al-Bulushi is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine.