Negotiating Pipeline Projects and Reterritorialising Land through Rural Resistance in Northern Kenya

In 2012, construction began on the Lamu Port–South Sudan–Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor in northern Kenya. The corridor will include a pipeline for transport of crude oil, a new port facility on the Indian Ocean, a new highway, railway and other transport infrastructure. By some estimates, over 1,500,000 hectares of land will be acquired for the project. The corridor has been promoted as a catalyst for industrial and agricultural development and the expansion of social and economic services – thereby benefiting rural groups in northern Kenya that have long been neglected by the state. Recent discoveries of oil, geothermal and wind resources have attracted foreign investors to the region. The state has responded by beginning to administer and defend territory in the north differently than in the past. This chapter considers how this state-led process of territorial restructuring is impacting two rural groups: pastoralists and conservationists, and how they are responding. It is argued that these groups are engaging in acts of (re)territorialization ‘from below’ to resist territorial restructuring ‘from above’. The chapter argues that their efforts are having uneven outcomes, aggravating historical anxieties, and generating new points of contention relating to their different relationships to the land.