South-North Partnerships revisited: The potentials of partnerships between grassroot activists in the case of transnational LGBTIQ* activism between Kenya and Germany

In contrast to the growing body of literature on South-North partnerships that tends to focus on the cooperation between large-scale NGOs, this paper will examine the potentials of partnerships between activists on a grassroots-level. Reflecting upon their experiences of cooperating on LGBTIQ* rights in Nairobi, Kenya, the authors will illustrate how eye-level cooperation on the grassroots-level can actually make a major contribution to overcoming the severe challenges of the LGBTIQ* community in Kenia and how the experiences drawn from the cooperation, vice versa, enrich human rights activism in Germany. The paper will proceed with a discussion of the implication of the case analysis for the theory and practice of activism in the context of South-North partnerships. First, grassroots cooperation is efficient in running small-scale projects tailored to local needs and, which are below radar level of large-sale organizations. Second, it can help activists to identify and monitor ‘hidden’ forms of discrimination and human rights violation on a local level, and communicate their information through human rights networks to larger organizations and policy-maker. Finally, grassroots-cooperation represents a scheme for the self-empowerment of the participating activists, who may then serve as multiplier in their respective activism networks. Thus, the scheme not only facilitates the accelerated development of social capital, both nationally and transnationally, but also supports the individual activist to break his or her own marginalization. As a consequence, the paper encourages researcher to focus their attention to partnerships on a grassroots level, and policy-maker to provide the adequate frameworks for such cooperation in order to facilitate social change.


Richard Georgi . School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg .
Emmanuel Odhiambo . YHEPP Kenya .

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