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Open access

Interstitial urban spaces

Housing strategies and the use of the city by homeless asylum seekers and refugees in Trento, Italy

Giuliana Sanò, Giulia Storato, and Francesco Della Puppa

This contribution presents the results of an ethnographic research, conducted in the Autonomous Province of Trento (Italy), which investigated the living conditions of refugees and asylum seekers outside the reception system and explored the heterogeneous and fragmented world of pathways they undertake in search of work and accommodation. From the point of view of housing, the investigation has shown how individuals put in place different kind of tactics and strategies. Generally, among these, informal settlements seemed to be the most common solution. However, what we focus on relates to both the effects produced on migrants’ everyday life by the environments and the material conditions of these settlements and the forms of re‐appropriation of the spaces exercised by the individuals. For instance, this is the case of ‘Le Albere’: a residential and commercial area designed by a famous architect which has become the ‘home’ of many refugees excluded by the reception system. How does this place affect migrants’ everyday lives? Why do they prefer to live in this area? How does their presence re‐shape such space? These are the main questions that this contribution aims to answer.

Open access

Internal and Internalised Borders of Havana

Oskar Lubiński

In this ethnographic snapshot, I reflect on the experience of the internal borders of Havana. I consider how these borders become internalised, impacting everyday lives and the movements of my research partners across the city. I focus on the marginalised citizens whose legal status and place of living make the borders especially apparent. My interest lies in how the internal borders are set up and embodied in the context of Cuba and reflected in everyday experiences. I use my encounter with Ramón to present the varied experiences of the border through two radically different positionalities: that of Cubans who migrated to Havana and myself as a foreigner being able to move freely through the city.

Restricted access

Pre-pandemic Influences on Kenyan Girls’ Transitions to Adulthood during COVID-19

Meghan Bellerose, Maryama Diaw, Jessie Pinchoff, Beth Kangwana, and Karen Austrian

the wellbeing of the urban poor, including the roughly 2.9 million residents of informal settlements in Nairobi ( Quaife et al. 2020 ). Compared to the rest of Nairobi's population, informal settlement residents have higher mortality and poverty

Open access

Subjects of Aspirations

Populist Governance in Post-revolutionary Nicaragua

Luciana Chamorro

I met Pedro and his wife Maribel in Gracias a Dios, 1 an urban informal settlement born out of a land occupation in the outskirts of a large city in the Pacific region of Nicaragua. Like most other residents of Gracias a Dios, they had seen the

Open access


The Meantime Future of Humanitarian Design

Peter Redfield

initiative of the Sustainability Institute in Stellenbosch, South Africa, the project seeks to offer a mildly ‘improved’ form of dwelling to residents inhabiting informal settlements, the urban tidal zone of shantytowns produced by continuing waves of

Restricted access

A Safe House? Girls' Drawings on Safety and Security in Slums in and around Nairobi

Fatuma Chege, Lucy Maina, Claudia Mitchell, and Margot Rothman

According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (article 27) every child has the right to a standard of living adequate for the realization of her or his physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development. Adequate housing, food and clothing underpin the adequacy of a child’s standard of living. UNICEF estimated nearly ten years ago that one out of every three children, or 640 million children around the world, live in inadequate housing (Bellamy: 2005). Despite this commitment to child rights, little appears to be documented on the safety and security of children with regard to housing generally, and, more specifically, housing in slums or informal settlements: urban growth in the Global South is set to be virtually synonymous with the expansion of slums and informal settlements, and, seven years ago, there were 199 million slum dwellers in Africa alone (Tibajuka 2007). It is impossible, then, to address violence against children and the related issues of child protection, without taking into account the importance of adequate housing, and the significance of what goes on inside houses: the inclusion of the voices of children themselves, currently woefully unheard, is critical.

Open access

Affordability and relationality

The reproduction and transformation of the segregated city in Windhoek

Lalli Metsola

explore how the dual logic of access plays out in the everyday governance of informal settlements. Finally, I will discuss some of the broader implications of these segregationist legacies for the Namibian state and its citizens. Windhoek as a post

Open access

The making of a racialized surplus population

Romania's labor-housing nexus

Enikő Vincze

precarious employment in the new industries or in services. Their vulnerability on the labor market matches their precarious housing conditions. Unable to pay their rent and bills, many Roma gave up their apartments and relocated to informal settlements

Open access

Book Reviews

Joost Beuving, Rosalie Stolz, and Mònica Martínez Mauri

's military government is prepared to go with regard to dealing with informal settlements, but particularly about the political processes unfolding among residents of informal settlements who began organising themselves and, ultimately, about what

Free access


Liana Chua, Natalia Buitron, and Timothy Cooper

informal settlements in Nicaragua. By grounding their analyses in ethnographic complexity, the constituent articles thus refuse easy binaries and ‘the temptation to see subjects as either precarious victims or radical agents with revolutionary potential