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The politics of space: negotiating tenure security in a Nairobi Slum

Wanjiru Kamunyori, Sheila (2016) The politics of space: negotiating tenure security in a Nairobi Slum. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.dzl9li8thr53


Slum upgrading is a planning intervention where the state, in the process of upgrading an informal space, is seen as delivering tenure security to the residents in that space. This dissertation investigates the making legible of an informal space in Nairobi by analysing the processes and outcomes of a slum upgrading project and the consequent impact on tenure security. Using a qualitative, case study approach, I begin by analysing the production of the Korogocho slum and the practices that contributed to the production of the informal space. Next I examine two processes within the slum upgrading intervention aimed at making legible the space and the people, processes that are distinctively grounded in modernist planning: preparing a physical plan and conducting enumeration. I show how during these processes different rationalities, or ways of knowing, are continually meeting, contesting and negotiating, leading to hybridized outcomes. While the planning intervention has made some aspects of the space legible, it has reduced the legitimacy of some use claims on the space, particularly those of sole structure owners. Further, only certain subpopulations are made legible; long-term tenants, particularly those that are youth born in the settlement, are pushed further into illegibility and tenure insecurity. Within this analysis, I discuss how residents in the settlement propose how the two processes could have been implemented to lead to legibility that matched their ways of knowing. My findings illustrate that planning interventions that are predicated on technocratic solutions need to be balanced with an understanding of the everyday dynamics, or rationalities, of residents in informal spaces. I argue that tenure security needs to be conceptualised as the outcome of negotiated practices between actors taking place in a particular type of space rather than the outcome of planning practices used by the state to guarantee tenure security or used by urban residents to contest or fight for it. In addition, I argue that slum upgrading needs to move attention beyond tenure regularization to other components of tenure security, including those for the various categories of tenants in order to match their needs.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2016 Sheila Wanjiru Kamunyori
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > International Development
Supervisor: Meagher, Kate

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