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

Title Creating space in a ‘naked city’: violence and identity in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya
Funded by WOTRO
Collaboration Wageningen University 
Time 2004-2011
Brief Description

This PhD research 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.

Researchers Bram Jansen
Key Publications The protracted refugee camp and the consolidation of a ‘humanitarian urbanism’ Jansen, B.J. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (2016). – ISSN 0309-1317

Le camp dans l’économie de la ville, de la région, et du monde Jansen, B.J. In: Un monde de camps / , Agier, Michel. – : Editions La Decouverte – p. 164 – 177.

Humanitarian space as arena: A perspective on the everyday politics of aid Hilhorst, D.J.M. , Jansen, B.J. In: Disaster, Conflict and Society in Crises; Everyday politics of crisis response / , Hilhorst, D.. – London and New York : Routledge (Routledge Humanitarian Studies Series 1) – ISBN 9780415640824 – p. 187 – 204.

Constructing rights and wrongs in humanitarian action: contributions from a sociology of praxis Hilhorst, D.J.M. , Jansen, B.J. Sociology : the Journal of the British Sociological Association 46 (2012)5. – ISSN 0038-0385 – p. 891 – 905.

The accidental city : violence, economy and humanitarianism in Kakuma refugee camp Kenya Jansen, B.J. Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Thea Hilhorst. – [S.l.] : S.n. – ISBN 9789085858591 – p.

Humanitarian Space as Arena: A Perspective on the Everyday Politics of Aid Hilhorst, D.J.M. , Jansen, B.J. Development and Change 41 (2010)6. – ISSN 0012-155X – p. 1117 – 1139.

Between vulnerability and assertiveness: negotiating resettlement in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya Jansen, B.J. African Affairs 107 (2008)429. – ISSN 0001-9909 – p. 569 – 587.