Nairobi in the Making
Title Details

224 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

20 b/w illus.

Series: Eastern Africa Series

Series Vol. Number: 46

Imprint: James Currey

Nairobi in the Making

Landscapes of Time and Urban Belonging

by Constance Smith

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Author
  • Reviews
Examines the making and remaking of Nairobi, one of Africa's most fragmented, vibrant cities, contributing to debates on urban anthropology, the politics of the past and postcolonial materialities.
What does it mean to make a life in an African city today? How do ordinary Africans, surrounded by collapsing urban infrastructures and amid fantastical promises of hypermodern, globalised futures, try to ensure a place for themselves in the city's future? Exploring the relationship between the remains of empire and the global city, and themes of urban belonging and exclusion, housing and security, Constance Smith examines the making and remaking of one ofAfrica's most fragmented, vibrant cities.

Nairobi is on the cusp of radical urban change. As in other capital cities across Africa, the Kenyan government has launched "Vision 2030", an urban megaproject that envisions the capital as a "world class metropolis", a spectacular new node in a network of global cities. Yet as a city born of British colonialism, Nairobians also live amongst the dilapidated vestiges of imperial urban planning; spaces designed to regulate urban subjects. Based on extensive ethnographic research in a dilapidated, colonial-era public housing project built as a model urban neighbourhood but which is now slated for demolition, Smith explores how projects of self-making and city-making are entwined. She traces how it is through residents' everyday lives - in the mundane, incremental work of home maintenance, in the accumulation of stories about the past, in ordinary people's aspirations for the future - that urban landscapes are formed, imaginatively, materially and unpredictably, across time. Nairobi emerges as a place of pathways and plans, obstructions and aspirations, residues and endurances, thatinflect the way that ordinary people produce the city, generating practices of historymaking, ideas about urban belonging and attempts to refashion "Vision 2030" into a future more meaningful and inclusive to ordinary city dwellers.

Published in association with the British Institute in Eastern Africa.

Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania,Rwanda: Twaweza Communications
Introduction
PART I: PRESENT PASTS, UNCERTAIN FUTURES
Making a Place over Time
Dirt, Remains and Decay
Performing Property, Making History
PART II: MAKING NEW HORIZONS
Land, Home and Funerals
Constructing Security Claims
Making the Future in the Shadow of Vision 2030
Conclusion: Belonging to the future

Constance Smith is a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow in Social Anthropology, University of Manchester.

"Although an academic text, this book will be informative for a wider audience including planners, consultants and policymakers. It should serve as essential reading for those undertaking planning in cities, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, and as a primer for understanding the complex realities that shape urban areas." LSE REVIEW OF BOOKS
"Researchers interested in understanding urban development from an ethnographic lens will find inspiration in the different perspectives of this book as it illustrates the plea of inclusivity by the residents yearning to co-own national visions together with its bearer rather than being simply by-standers/on-lookers. In addition, the book is resourceful in understanding Nairobi from a residential historical perspective and how this history is embedded in the present urban architecture. The use of photography provides a clearer understanding to the reader of the character of the neighbourhood and the different concepts presented in the book." H-Soz-Kult
"This delicious ethnography, full of familiar actions, turns of phrase, habits, and logics, pays close attention to minute details that repeat and accumulate and build mass, bumping up against the present in important ways. In the process, Smith forces us to reexamine some temporal concepts such as decay, memory, and disintegration to understand their generative qualities. For Smith, decay is not loss but rather accumulation or excess-excess that accumulates to make the fabric of the city, a felted fabric densely matted and entangled, held together through friction." African Studies Review
"Smith has done empathetic and adventurous fieldwork." H-AFRICA

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9781847013262

June 2022

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Title Details

224 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

20 b/w illus.

Series: Eastern Africa Series

Series Vol. Number: 46

Imprint: James Currey