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Internal Migration

Since the mid-20th century, Sub-Saharan Africa has witnessed perhaps the fastest population growth in human history. This seminar considers the effects of that growth on health and notions of identity in its most obvious manifestation: the super-cities that have emerged across the region. Focusing on Nairobi, the capital of Nairobi, we will look at how matters of public health have combined with ideas of criminality and politics.

Nairobi Market


Required reading

John Iliffe, The African Poor: A History (Cambridge, 1987) [e-book], chapter 10 ‘Urban Poverty in Tropical Africa.’

Luise White, The Comforts of Home: Prostitution in Colonial Nairobi (Chicago, 1990), chapter 8 ‘Prostitution, Crime and Politics in Nairobi, 1946-63.’

Timothy Parsons, “Kibra is Our Blood’: The Sudanese Military Legacy in Nairobi’s Kibera Location, 1902-68,’ International Journal of African Historical Studies, 30, 1 (1997); 87-122.

Eliya Msiyaphazi Zulu, F. Nii-Amoo Dodoo & Alex Chika-Ezeh, ‘Sexual Risk-Taking in the Slums of Nairobi, Kenya, 1993-98,’ Population Studies, 56, 3 (2002); 311-23.

David Anderson, ‘Vigilantes, Violence and the Politics of Public Order in Kenya,’ African Affairs, 101 (2002); 531-55.

Elizabeth Campbell, ‘Urban Refugees in Nairobi: Problems of Protection, Mechanisms of Survival, and Possibilities for Integration,’ Journal of Refugee Studies, 19, 3 (2006); 396-413.


Suggested further reading

Deborah Bryceson & Deborah Potts (eds), African Urban Economies: Viability, Vitality or Vitiation? (Basingstoke, 2005).

Frederick Cooper, On the African Waterfront: Urban Disorder and the Transformation of Work in Colonial Mombasa (New Haven, 1987).

Bill Freund, The African City: A History (Cambridge, 2007).

Andrew Hake, African Metropolis: Nairobi’s Self-Help City (London, 1977).

Kenneth King, Jua Kali Kenya: A Change and Development in an Informal Economy, 1970-95 (London, 1996).

Kenneth Little, Urbanization as a Social Process: An Essay on Movement and Change in Contemporary Africa (London, 1974).

W.T.W. Morgan (ed.), Nairobi: City and Region (Nairobi, 1967).

David Parkin, Neighbours and Nationals in an African City Ward (London, 1969).

Carole Rakodi (ed.), The Urban Challenge in Africa: Growth and Management of its Large Cities (Tokyo, 1997).

Claire Robertson, Trouble Showed the Way: Women, Men, and Trade in the Nairobi Area, 1890-1990 (Bloomington IN, 1997).

Kathleen Sheldon (ed.), Courtyards, Markets, City Streets: Urban Women in Africa (Boulder, 1996).

Richard Stren & Rodney White (eds), African Cities in Crisis: Managing Rapid Urban Growth (Boulder, 1989).

Aili Mari Tripp, Changing the Rules: The Politics of Liberalization and the Urban Informal Economy in Tanzania (Berkeley, 1997).

Luise White, Speaking with Vampires: Rumor and History in Colonial Africa (Berkeley, 2000).