Profile image of Sam Balaton-Chrimes

Dr Sam Balaton-Chrimes



Senior Lecturer


Faculty of Arts and Education


School of Hum & Social Science


Melbourne Burwood Campus

+61 3 924 43972


Dr Sam Balaton-Chrimes is a Senior Lecturer in International Studies at Deakin University. Sam’s work is oriented to understanding and, ultimately, redressing injustices and inequalities between different identity groups. Sam uses anthropological and historical methods to illuminate the ways in which particular practices – often legal and bureaucratic – go to work to produce some citizens as marginal.

The heart of Sam’s research has been on how ethnic minorities are produced as such, and how they are marginalised (or not) in Kenya. Her current book project constructs a genealogy of techniques of ethnic classification introduced by the colonial state and adopted and transformed by the postcolonial state.

Sam teaches in Undergraduate, Honours and Postgraduate programs, where she aims to work with her students to hone their skills in critical thinking, and expose them to people, places, ideas and theories that better equip them to grapple with pressing political problems of inequality, injustice and power in their future professions.

Read more on Sam's profile

Research interests

  • Identity politics
  • Politics of recognition
  • Ethnic politics
  • Census politics
  • Postcolonialism and decoloniality
  • Epistemological politics
  • Theories of power
  • Kenya


Member, African Studies Association of Africa

Member, British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA)

Teaching interests

African politics

Identity politics

Theories of power 


International Political Economy

Colonialism, postcolonialism and decoloniality

Research ethics

Research design

Units taught

AIX497 (Honours) Theory and Debates in the Discipline (Theories of power in the social sciences) 

AIP211 (Second year undergraduate) Politics of Poverty and Prosperity

ADS734 (Masters of International and Community Development) Political Development Record

AIX706 (various Masters programs) Research Design

Knowledge areas

  • Identity politics
  • Politics of recognition
  • Ethnic politics
  • Census politics
  • Postcolonialism and decoloniality
  • Epistemological politics
  • Theories of power
  • Kenya

Professional activities

Fellow, Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies, Stellenbosch, South Africa, Second Semester 2022 

Visiting Scholar, New School for Social Research, New York, USA, Fall semester 2016


Sam is a Chief Investigator on an Australian Research Council Discovery Indigenous Project with Dr Victoria Stead and Prof Yin Paradies on the politics of recognition in postcolonial contexts. The overall project aims to compare settler and non-settler postcolonies to inform the development of a new theory of relationality across postcolonial difference. As part of this project, Sam produced (with Alice Bellette) the award-winning podcast series Welcome?.

Sam’s research on this project is currently being written up into a book on how the Kenyan state categorises its citizens by ethnicity. Practically, this project seeks to expose a series of bureaucratic instruments used by the Kenyan state to govern and differentiate between citizens. Theoretically, it seeks to interrogate the epistemological implications of using colonial bureaucratic tools, such as the census, in postcolonial ways.

Sam is in the development phase of two future projects:

The first aims to understand how notions of minoritisation and marginalisation play out in different East African contexts. It entails a comparison of practices of categorisation, both legal and bureaucratic. Using methods from comparative political sociology and political anthropology it will seek to understand how the formalisation (or informalisation) of minority and marginal status affects access to resources, political subjectivities and broader national political cultures.

The second compares identity categories across the former British Empire in order to specify and theorise the nature of their colonial origins and legacies, and identify possible sites of transformation of identity politics in census practices.


No publications found

Funded Projects at Deakin

Australian Competitive Grants

Beyond Recognition: Postcolonial Relationality Across Difference

Prof Yin Paradies, A/Prof Victoria Stead, Dr Sam Balaton-Chrimes

ARC Discovery Indigenous

  • 2021: $126,517
  • 2020: $140,565
  • 2019: $136,064
  • 2018: $124,013

Industry and Other Funding

Nubian land title in Kibra: What now?

Dr Sam Balaton-Chrimes

Open Society Foundations

  • 2017: $4,635



Kennedy Okello

Thesis entitled: Christian-Muslim Relations: Managing Religious Tensions and Conflicts in Mombasa, Kenya

Doctor of Philosophy, School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Associate Supervisor

Raman Kumar Apsingikar

Thesis entitled: The Politics of Special Economic Zones: The Case of Polepally in Andhra Pradesh, India

Doctor of Philosophy, School of Humanities and Social Sciences