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Present Pasts, Uncertain Futures: Materiality and Time in a Nairobi Housing Estate

Smith, CR; (2016) Present Pasts, Uncertain Futures: Materiality and Time in a Nairobi Housing Estate. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Kaloleni estate in Nairobi was built in the 1940s by British colonial authorities. It was designed as a model garden suburb for African families, and intended to produce a new type of urban colonial subject. Today the estate is rundown and dilapidated, but still home to many descendants of the original residents. It is now marked for 'regeneration' as part of Vision 2030, a radical planning project that promises to kickstart Nairobi's urban renewal. This thesis lies at the intersection of the anthropology of material culture and the anthropology of history and time. It considers the legacies of a colonial housing scheme, and the way place is produced over time. It explores how the estate has been imaginatively and materially reconfigured by residents’ own ambitions and agendas as they negotiate an uncertain future. In particular, it highlights the generative relationship between people and architecture, and the way the accumulated traces of decades leave their mark, shaping ideas about the past and about how the future city should be. Fieldwork was primarily conducted in Kaloleni estate, Nairobi. A short research period followed ex-residents of Kaloleni ‘upcountry’, back to their rural homelands. The thesis also incorporates archival sources, contemporary documents and visualisations of urban planning, as well as observations of online interactions taking place on social media.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Present Pasts, Uncertain Futures: Materiality and Time in a Nairobi Housing Estate
Event: UCL
Language: English
Keywords: East Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, architecture, materiality, temporality, urban planning, urban anthropology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1528672
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