Kenya has been the third major outlet through which hundreds of thousands of refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and South Sudan flee from political persecution and for better livelihoods. This book is a commentary of Nairobi as an urban refugee space. It provides an in-depth ethnographic account and analysis of state-refugee relations in Nairobi focusing mainly on the lived experience of Ethiopian refugees. In addition, the author employs Henry Lefebvre’s work on “right to the city” to explore and qualify whether the literature in urban citizenship can speak to the Kenyan experience. This book is a timely and remarkable addition into the cannon of scholarship in comparative urban studies, African studies, and refugee studies.
Derese G. Kassa is assistant professor of sociology at Iona College.
1. Setting the Scene
2. Africa’s Sanctuary City
3. The Making of Urban Refugees
4. “Governing” Refugees
5. Refugee Spaces
Kassa’s study provides a significant contribution to the literature on urban refugees and urban citizenship in southern cities. It provides a useful application of Lefebvre’s theoretical work to the context of the southern city and contributes a wealth of empirical data on Ethiopian urban refugees in Nairobi.
Refugee Spaces and Urban Citizenship in Nairobi: Africa's Sanctuary City represents an important contribution to the field of forced migration theoretically and empirically, especially given the scarcity of existing knowledge. It also offers useful implications for practitioners, particularly in light of the increasing trend toward urbanization in forced displacement situations. Overall, the book provides interesting insights into the lives of self-settled Ethiopian refugees.