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Street trade, neoliberalisation and the control of space: Nairobi's Central Business District in the era of entrepreneurial urbanism

Abstract : Studies focusing on street trade in Sub-Saharan Africa place great importance on the continuity with the colonial period and on the neocolonial characteristics of public action. This frame of reference, however pertinent it might be, does not account for all of the dynamics at work. I argue that it can benefit from an additional reading of what I characterize as the neoliberal dynamics also at work in these processes, drawing from governmentality studies and from the theories of " the urbanisation of neoliberalism ". The paper discusses this hypothesis by examining the evolution of spatial politics on the streets of Nairobi's Central Business District in the 2000s, focusing on a specific episode: the displacement of the street traders to an enclosed market located on the outskirts of the CBD. The first section considers the policies of street trade in Nairobi since the colonial period and the changes in their meaning under entrepreneurial rule, questioning the hypothesis of the colonial continuity. I then turn to an analysis of the neoliberal features of current street trade policies. I detail the emergence of the private sector as a major actor in the governance of street trade and its instrumental role in the crafting of a consultative procedure that has helped to reframe the traders' relationship to the state around the ideal of the responsible entrepreneurial citizen and contributed to enrolment as active participants in their own relocation.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01468094
Contributor : Marianne Morange <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 10:57:33 AM
Last modification on : Friday, March 27, 2020 - 3:02:57 AM

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Marianne Morange. Street trade, neoliberalisation and the control of space: Nairobi's Central Business District in the era of entrepreneurial urbanism. Journal of Eastern African Studies, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2015, 9 (2), pp.247 - 269. ⟨10.1080/17531055.2015.1018407⟩. ⟨hal-01468094⟩

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