Accepted paper:

Disconnection and (re)connection: road infrastructure and Pastoralism in Nairobi.


Noel Okello (Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I argue that recent and ongoing road infrastructure expansion projects in the Nairobi Metropolitan Region premised on proleptic notions of modernity and neoliberal reform have, inadvertently, effected a cultural hybridity simultaneously modern and traditional.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I argue that the recent and ongoing transformation of road transportation infrastructure in the Nairobi Metropolitan Region has had unexpected effects on traditional pastoral lifestyles of the Maasai as well as on the organization of the everyday life of the new city: the city created by the new road infrastructure projects. I present observations and mappings of the everyday lives of pastoral and roadside communities along two roads, one new and the other expanded-the Eastern Bypass and the Mombasa Highway respectively. I posit that as the Maasai have been displaced from their land by the commoditization of land and accompanying encroachment of situated urban functions, road transportation infrastructure serves as the urban space to which they adapt their traditional lifestyles. Their lifestyle, per force, does not remain pure but is transformed through the nature of its interactions with this alien landscape. I further argue that such lifestyle changes are not limited to traditional lifestyles of the Maasai but extend to cover the construction of what I refer to as the new city. The result of these simultaneous transformations is hybrid urbanity: urbanity resilient in the face of continuing marginalization of the peripheral city.

panel P067
New mobilities and translocal social practices of African (post)pastoralist societies