The accidental city of Kakuma, Kenya: humanitarian urbanism and the development of the refugee camp environment
Dr Bram J Jansen (Wageningen University)
Public Seminar Series
Wednesday, 20 February 2019, 5pm to 6.30pm
Seminar Room 1, Oxford Department of International Development, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3TB
Hosted by Refugee Studies Centre
Public Seminar Series, Hilary term 2019
Series convenor: Dr Naohiko Omata
About the seminar series
This public seminar series consists of two separate themes: 1) Refugees in the United Kingdom and 2) Urban Refugees. Speakers come from diverse backgrounds, including both practitioners and academics, to consolidate existing empirical and theoretical knowledge of the proposed themes.
1) Refugees in the United Kingdom
At the end of 2016, the United Kingdom hosted nearly 120,000 refugees from a range of countries. While the available literature on this population has been growing, many areas of refugees’ post-resettlement/asylum lives remain under-explored. This seminar series will offer insights into the ways in which refugees in the UK have adapted to their new lives, with a focus on understanding the lived experiences of their economic and socio-cultural integration – or lack thereof.
2) Urban Refugees
Currently, more than half of the world’s refugees live outside of designated refugee camps or settlements, surviving with varying degrees of independence and success, and often living under the radar of aid organisations. This seminar series will enable audiences to cultivate a better understanding of the day-to-day lives of ‘self-settled’ refugees around the world, particularly in the Global South.
About the seminar
This seminar will explore the idea of humanitarian urbanism as a lens to understand the lives and governance of people in and around protracted refugee camps, based on extensive ethnographic research in Kakuma, Kenya. The approach builds on the suggestion of protracted camps as accidental cities, but focusses more on lifestyles and socio-economic aspects as related to a particular humanitarian governance, that expand beyond the strict camp boundaries. The perspective of humanitarian urbanism allows for a holistic socio-economic picture, moving beyond the conventional view of such camps as transitory, secluded and desolate, to demonstrate how their inhabitants, neighbours and institutions contribute to the development of much more permanent and hybrid society.
About the speaker
Bram J. Jansen is a lecturer with the department of Sociology of Development and Change at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, where he works on humanitarian, conflict and refugee issues. He conducted ethnographic fieldwork in East and the Horn of Africa, mostly in Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan, and more recently in Jordan, and is actively engaged in humanitarian policy debates in the Netherlands. His research interests include the urbanisation of protracted refugee camps (on which he published a book in 2018 – Kakuma Refugee Camp. Humanitarian Urbanism in Kenya's Accidental City – Zed Books), aid culture, and broader issues of humanitarian governance in protracted crisis situations.
Registration is not required. Refreshments will be served after the seminar.