Creating space in a ‘naked city’: violence and identity in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya

Bram Jansen conducted an ethnography of Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya. Extensive fieldwork in and around the camp analyzes how people settle down, organize themselves, relate to the environment. This step away from a problem solving perspective allows the study of social ordering processes of a place that is idiosyncratic yet becomes increasingly normal and linked to the regional and global economy.

This research approaches the protracted refugee camp as an emerging urbanity that defies the logic of temporary humanitarian shelter. The frame of urbanity highlights how refugees negotiate space and order their lives and the camp economy vis-à-vis the refugee hosting apparatus, the local hosts, and each other. The study identifies contemporary challenges and opportunities that arise in and around the phenomenon of protracted refugee situations. The study has resulted in a PhD thesis entitled: The Accidental City; violence, economy and humanitarianism in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya.

Promotor: Dorothea Hilhorst