Digital Workshop: Homogenised Mindscapes, Heterogeneous Landscapes: Re-imagining COVID-19 mitigation efforts for Nairobi’s urban poor

Digital Workshop: Homogenised Mindscapes, Heterogeneous Landscapes: Re-imagining COVID-19 mitigation efforts for Nairobi’s urban poor
Jethron Ayumbah Akallah, Prince Guma
Tuesday, 30 June 2020 Add to Calendar 2020-06-30 15:45:00 2020-06-30 17:00:00 Asia/Kolkata Digital Workshop: Homogenised Mindscapes, Heterogeneous Landscapes: Re-imagining COVID-19 mitigation efforts for Nairobi’s urban poor CPR and CSH are pleased to invite you to a Digital Workshop on  Homogenised Mindscapes, Heterogeneous Landscapes: Re-imagining COVID-19 mitigation efforts for Nairobi’s urban poor Speakers:  Jethron Ayumbah Akallah, Maseno University, Kisumu, Kenya Prince Guma, British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA), Nairobi, Kenya The session will be online via Zoom. To register, kindly fill this form. It will also be live-streamed on the CPR India Facebook page.  If there is an issue, please email urbanization@cprindia.org About the talk In recent months, the COVID-19 pandemic has become an issue of urban concern. In many cities across the globe, this pandemic has had catastrophic consequences, revealing and exacerbating cities’ preexisting conditions of systemic and institutionalised socio-spatial inequalities. Globally, strong emphasis for securing the city has been placed on the more dominant and circulating state-led and expert-driven recommendations for containment and locking down of—and against—city centres. This emphasis materialises at the expense—and even to the detriment—of resident-initiated practices that are mostly disparaged as less developed and not sophisticated enough for consideration. In our presentation, we rely on ethnographic data carried out in the informal settlements of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. We take an approach that is hinged on two critiques: one, of top-down universal approaches to securing the city during a pandemic; and two, of non-linear temporalities of Southern cities. We draw from these critiques as our departure point to draw lessons from diverse conceptions and experiences to pandemic impacts in everyday contexts of informality, precarity, and improvisation. Accordingly, we contend that Nairobi, being a splintered and fragmented city, dominant solutions must attend to the city’s differences in particular. We argue that disaggregated cities would require disaggregated policy approaches especially by understanding how each of these ‘cities within the city’ reproduce and manage themselves. This means going beyond standard solutions for a ‘technological fix’ or ‘magic bullet’ when dealing with crises. It means always taking into consideration the local context, beyond a kind of neoliberal level compliance, in search of ‘... Online via Zoom
3:45 pm to 5:00 pm
Online via Zoom
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CPR and CSH are pleased to invite you to a Digital Workshop on 

Homogenised Mindscapes, Heterogeneous Landscapes: Re-imagining COVID-19 mitigation efforts for Nairobi’s urban poor

Speakers: 

  • Jethron Ayumbah Akallah, Maseno University, Kisumu, Kenya
  • Prince Guma, British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA), Nairobi, Kenya

The session will be online via Zoom. To register, kindly fill this form. It will also be live-streamed on the CPR India Facebook page
If there is an issue, please email urbanization@cprindia.org

About the talk

In recent months, the COVID-19 pandemic has become an issue of urban concern. In many cities across the globe, this pandemic has had catastrophic consequences, revealing and exacerbating cities’ preexisting conditions of systemic and institutionalised socio-spatial inequalities. Globally, strong emphasis for securing the city has been placed on the more dominant and circulating state-led and expert-driven recommendations for containment and locking down of—and against—city centres. This emphasis materialises at the expense—and even to the detriment—of resident-initiated practices that are mostly disparaged as less developed and not sophisticated enough for consideration.

In our presentation, we rely on ethnographic data carried out in the informal settlements of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. We take an approach that is hinged on two critiques: one, of top-down universal approaches to securing the city during a pandemic; and two, of non-linear temporalities of Southern cities. We draw from these critiques as our departure point to draw lessons from diverse conceptions and experiences to pandemic impacts in everyday contexts of informality, precarity, and improvisation. Accordingly, we contend that Nairobi, being a splintered and fragmented city, dominant solutions must attend to the city’s differences in particular.

We argue that disaggregated cities would require disaggregated policy approaches especially by understanding how each of these ‘cities within the city’ reproduce and manage themselves. This means going beyond standard solutions for a ‘technological fix’ or ‘magic bullet’ when dealing with crises. It means always taking into consideration the local context, beyond a kind of neoliberal level compliance, in search of ‘what works’.

About the speakers

Dr. Jethron Ayumbah Akallah is a Lecturer in the department of History and Archaeology at Maseno University, Western Kenya. He holds a PhD in History of Technology from TU Darmstadt, Germany. His research focuses on water and sanitation technology in Nairobi.

Prince Guma is a research fellow and assistant country director at the British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA), Nairobi, Kenya. His research work focuses on infrastructural vulnerabilities in the cities of sub-Saharan Africa. 

Find all the available videos of our previous workshops, here


This is the hundred and twenty-fifth in a series of Urban Workshops planned by the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH), New Delhi and Centre for Policy Research (CPR). These workshops seek to provoke public discussion on issues relating to the development of the city and try to address all its facets including its administration, culture, economy, society and politics. For further information, please contact: Rémi de Bercegol at remi.debercegol@gmail.com, Olivier Telle of CSH at olivier.telle@csh-delhi.com, Mukta Naik at mukta@cprindia.org or Marie-Hélène Zerah at marie-helene.zerah@ird.fr.