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Accepted Paper:

Enabling (e)motions: affective volcanic encounters in Nakuru, Kenya  
Nick Rahier (Social and Cultural Anthropology, KU Leuven, Belgium)

Paper short abstract:

This paper uses ‘heat’ to think about urban life in Nakuru, Kenya. It demonstrates how affective encounters with heat generate multiple outcomes. Heat can be either destructive or productive and is an idiom used in Nakuru to narrate about the t(h)reats of the urban.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I unpack material and more-than-human engagements with the volcanic landscape of Menengai, a dormant shield volcano bordering Nakuru in Kenya. I shed light on the medicinal practices of a Gikuyu healer who lives in the volcano’s caldera and enables clients who lack 'motion’ to interact with - and feel kinaesthetically entangled in (e)motions that Menengai volcano generates. By establishing various affective encounters with the volcano’s material and immaterial components (its heat, plants and mineral substances), he assembles a medicinal repertoire to make sense of urban everyday life in Nakuru where some urbanites experience feelings of ‘directionlessness’, a condition evoked by the ‘heat’ of the city or late capitalism that increasingly puts pressure on urbanites’ wellbeing. I thus take the kinaesthetic healing work in Menengai as a vantage point to reflect about more general corporeal-kinetic imaginations and concerns among residents of Nakuru and who or what is responsible for their well-being or the lack thereof. The paper ultimately examines how heat, as an at times destructive or productive force, appears as an idiom in Nakuru to narrate about the treats and threats of the urban .

Panel Exti01
Elemental anthropology: social alchemy in times of extinction
  Session 1 Monday 29 March, 2021, -