The invention and (re) configuration of space in selected Kenyan television dramas
Akuma, Kebaya Charles
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The study interrogates the invention and (re)configuration of space as a social construct in Kenyan television drama. While focusing on selected local television dramas; Mheshimiwa, Mother-in-law and Tabasamu, the study examines manifestations of space, and how characters contest, and (re)configure emergent spaces in the contemporary society. The first television drama aired on Kenya Television Network (KTN) whereas the second and third air on Citizen Television. The study investigates space in the selected television dramas as an intersection and a conversation with various formations, past and present, in a bid to understand socio-cultural, economic and political realities in Kenya. The study employs the theorization of space to explore the framing and dramatization of space in local television drama. Hinged on an iterative research design, primary data was obtained from a close examination of three purposively sampled local television dramas. Purposively selected episodes of the three dramas were studied and information obtained regarding space was recorded and considered data for analysis and interpretation. Secondary sources that comprised texts, dissertations, scholarly publications and articles related to the area of study were consulted. Guided by the research objectives, primary and secondary data obtained were analysed, interpreted and collated using thematic content analysis. Limited access to the television dramas due to suspicion of being a pirate masquerading as an academic and copyright issues were key challenges that this study faced. From the analyses, it emerged that local television drama exploits spaces such as the family, court, political and the everyday space to make sense of various issues affecting society. Issues such as political leadership, material affluence, youth identity formations, social referents and sex(uality) discourses are not only figured but also contested, invented and reconfigured in society as portrayed in local television drama. It also emerged that young female professionals were depicted as challenging patriarchal practices and that to them, sexual pleasure is viewed as a desire that is related to their status as career women, but above all to possibilities generated by being relatively independent from social control. Strengthened by their financial independence, this category of women is at the vanguard in reconfiguring subjectivities and social complexities of sexuality in the contemporary Kenyan society. In this way, local television drama functions as a popular site for exploring and understanding emerging moral issues that characterize young women’s sexualities in Kenya. Consequently, the study concludes that artistic sensibilities in local television drama crystallize in the characterization of women as being in the forefront in challenging masculinity and reconfiguration of emergent practices of feminine power and agency in society.