Accepted paper:

Class, social mobility, and biography: materiality and temporality in a Kenyan city

Authors:

Ruth Prince (University of Oslo)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how certain objects, spaces and materialities can suddenly and unpredictably fold time, exposing ruptures in personal biographies and horizons of expectation, and the loss of social mobility. The ethnographic material is drawn from urban Kenya

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores how certain objects, spaces and materialities can suddenly and unpredictably fold time, exposing ruptures in personal biographies and horizons of expectation, and the loss of social mobility. The ethnographic material is drawn from urban Kenya, where my informants´ encounters with a formerly colonial club, which after independence opened its doors to African middle class, evoked memories of growing up at a time when such spaces of leisure and pleasure indexed entry into modern, urban life along with a sense of expanding horizons. Today, the club´s entrance fee excludes all but the city´s elite, materializing the displacement of earlier generations of the socially mobile, through structural adjustment and economic crisis, from privileged spaces of recreation and leisure. Sitting in the garden, drinking tea and watching the sunset evoked memories of different times, and one´s place within them. I draw on these and other encounters in and movements across the city to reflect on how the texture, materiality and looping of time and space may reveal deeply affective experiences of social mobility, class and modernity.

panel Time03
Chronotopic materialities