Dadaab is a Place on Earth, Architecture in the Twilight of the World’s Largest Refugee Camp.

18th April 2017, 6:00-8:00 P.M., New York University, 20 Cooper Square, 2nd Floor.

As part of the African Cities Week, this moderated discussion concerns architecture and emergency urbanism in history, focusing on the constructed environment of the UNHCR-administered refugee camp complex at Dadaab, Kenya, near the border with Somalia. Paradoxical for its scale and ephemerality together, the Dadaab complex at once approaches and resists being “urban,” on the one hand, and a “camp,” on the other. Established in 1991 to shelter thirty thousand refugees, the Dadaab complex expanded over the course of a quarter century to five settlements with a compound headquartering a centralized structure of humanitarian agencies. According to unofficial counts, it currently houses one half million refugees and asylum seekers, along with humanitarian aid workers in residence. In early 2016, citing security threats, the government of Kenya announced that it would close the complex prior to the next general election, and dismantled the Department of Refugee Affairs as a decisive measure. Through a detailed discussion on design, use, aesthetics, and affect at the Dadaab site, we hope to study the social and political lived realities of an environment constructed to be liminal.

Introduction by Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi

Discussion with Samar Al-Bulushi, Alishine Osman, Ben Rawlence, Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi

Moderated by Rosalind Fredericks

Remarks by AbdouMaliq Simone

Organized by Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi, with Rachel Stern.

More information and teaching materials related to this event, can be accessed here.

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