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Public Seminar Series, Hilary term 2019

Series convener: Dr Naohiko Omata

Seminar held on 20 February 2019


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

Photo: Over 80% of refugees in Jordan live in urban areas, such as Amman - pictured. © UNHCR/Mohammad Hawari