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Mobile Urbanity: Somali Presence in Urban East Africa

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Volume 20

Integration and Conflict Studies

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Mobile Urbanity

Somali Presence in Urban East Africa

Edited by Neil Carrier and Tabea Scharrer
Afterword by Günther Schlee

264 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-296-0 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (July 2019)

ISBN  978-1-80073-443-2 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (August 2022)

eISBN 978-1-78920-297-7 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“Despite its theoretical understatement, the work develops significant ethnographic insights into the ways in which migrants and cities constantly remake each other in conjunction with the circulation of goods, discourses, and ideas. The volume’s focus on eastern Africa makes it a must-read for regionally focused urbanists. It also raises questions for further research on how eastern Africa’s mobile urbanity might be connecting in new ways to urban lives beyond Africa.” • JRAI

“This book is a microcosm of the broader processes that reinforce urban mobilities at the local levels…[It] contributes to a better understanding of these dynamics and reveals the constant state of mobility within urban areas.” • City and Society

“This book is a vital resource to Anthropologists, Historians, Tourists, Educators and Students, Economists and Business enthusiasts…Overall, a detailed story of Somali mobile urbanity in East Africa is well written and presented in a readable, scholarly, and entertaining style.” • Ethnic & Racial Studies

“This is an important book and one that is sorely needed… it corrects a misperception that Somalis are mainly pastoralists, when in fact they have a long tradition of living in towns and engaging in non-pastoral livelihoods, such as commerce.” • Peter D. Little, Emory University


The increased presence of Somalis has brought much change to East African towns and cities in recent decades, change that has met with ambivalence and suspicion, especially within Kenya. This volume demystifies Somali residence and mobility in urban East Africa, showing its historical depth, and exploring the social, cultural and political underpinnings of Somali-led urban transformation. In so doing, it offers a vivid case study of the transformative power of (forced) migration on urban centres, and the intertwining of urbanity and mobility. The volume will be of interest for readers working in the broader field of migration, as well as anthropology and urban studies.

Neil Carrier is an Associate Professor in Social Anthropology at the University of Bristol. He has worked on a number of themes related to transnational trade and commodities, and to the impact of migration on East Africa. His most recent book is an ethnography of Nairobi’s Eastleigh estate, home to a large proportion of Kenya’s urban Somali population.

Tabea Scharrer is currently working at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle (Germany), doing research with Somali migrants in Kenyan urban centres and in Europe. She wrote her dissertation on Muslim Missionary Movements and Conversion to Islam at the Free University in Berlin.

Subject: Refugee and Migration StudiesAnthropology (General)Urban Studies
Area: Africa


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