Accepted paper:

Lifestyle, middle classes and boundary work in suburban Dar es Salaam

Author:

Claire Mercer (London School of Economics and Political Science)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how everyday activities are shaping Dar es Salaam's suburban middle class neighbourhoods. I focus on the celebration of birth, marriage and death, and new rituals such as kitchen parties and primary school graduations; health, diet and use of leisure time, and associational life.

Paper long abstract:

In northern Dar es Salaam, new self-built suburbs have emerged over the last two decades. Relatively low-density neighbourhoods, with large houses on large plots, built to individual tastes, dominate the landscape. And yet these suburbs are not (yet) exclusively middle class, as long-term peri-urban dwellers and poorer urban residents nestle in-between their grander neighbours. The suburban built landscape cannot (yet) be read as enclave. And yet, middle class enclaves are emerging, as much through lifestyle as through land use and residential construction. For example, suburban middle class lifestyles are highly dependent on the private car, a fact of which one is daily reminded when trying to commute to or from the city centre. Middle class residents simply do not go anywhere on foot; walking, or taking public transport, generally denotes lower class status. This paper develops the point that the lifestyles lived in the new suburbs are significant in the repertoire of middle class boundary work. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the northern suburbs of Kinondoni, I focus on the celebration of rituals such as birth, marriage and death, and new rituals such as kitchen parties and primary school graduations; health, diet and the use of leisure time; and associational life. I argue that these everyday suburban activities are shaping Dar es Salaam's suburbs as middle class neighbourhoods

panel Anth08
Urban enclaves and the middle class