Stephen Asol Kapinde
Kenya, Ph.D, Theology, University of Basel, Switzerland, Lecturer, Religion and Public life, Pwani University 2022
Mixing Religious Logics in Peacebuilding: An Integrated Inter-Faith Approach to Counter- Violent Extremism in Kenya
International discourses on counter-violent extremism have been characterized by ‘liberal notions’ that view religion as problematic in addressing global peace and security (Park, 2016; Cravo, 2018). In the liberalization of conflict, scholars have underestimated the potential of religion and inter-religious actors as “viable agents to conflict transformation’’ (Kadayifci-Orellana 2013, p. 149), particularly in Kenya’s counter-violent extremism (CVE) architecture that is more militaristic in approach. This essentially leaves little space for non-state actors’ engagement, including Inter-Faith actors in peacebuilding and prevention of violent extremism. Using grounded theory, and adopting an integrated but multidimensional approach, this project seeks to systematically explore the Inter-faith Initiatives (IFI) to violent extremism in the Kenyan context. It examines the ‘integrated approaches’ employed by Faith-based actors in the prevention of violent conflicts, and the challenges [they] face in their counter-violent extremism measures. The project narrows down to the Coast Interfaith Council of Clerics of Kenya (CICC-K) as an empirical case to understand how the integration of belief-oriented approaches (religious knowledge/ideas, beliefs, values, and attitudes) can help in the prevention of violent extremism both at the local and national levels against AlShabaab insurgents (One of the al-Qaeda -affiliated terror group operating from Somalia across East African countries). This is of significance considering that different inter-faith groups have increased their social engagement in peace-building but with less collaboration with the state which leads eventually to less impact on CVE and de-radicalization. The study underscores this ‘missing link’ by accounting for the agency of religious communities and inter-faith groups in the prevention of violent extremism. Thus, seeking to uncover the “hidden costs and unintended consequences” of their public engagement.
Stephen Asol Kapinde is a Franz Humer scholar with a Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Basel, Switzerland. Stephen’s doctoral thesis on Church and State Relations in Post-Colonial Kenya (1963-2013) won the Faculty of Theology award as the best dissertation of the 2019/20 academic year. In 2021, Stephen served as a LUCAS/LAHRI research fellow at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, and in 2022, he was a visiting research fellow at the University of Macerata, Italy under the Erasmus Mundus mobility program. Currently, Stephen is a Research Associate and Lecturer of Religion and Public life at the Department of Philosophy and Religious studies, Pwani University, Kenya, and an Associate lecturer at the University of London Worldwide, UK. Stephen conducts interdisciplinary research on Religion, politics, reconciliation, peacebuilding, violence, and counter-violent extremism in the Global south. He also holds a Master of Arts in Religion and Politics, an M.A in History, and a Bachelor of Arts Education with a major in History and Religion.