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Project Location: Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya / 2016 - 2017

Senior Independent Study Project

Advisor & Critic: Todd Reisz 

Secondary Reader: Quan Tran

Made possible by RITM and CIPE fellowships

Kakuma Refugee Camp sketch
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During 2016 and 2017, I made three trips to Kakuma Refugee Camp and spent a total of four months there. The initial plan was to write an academic paper on the difference between UNHCR spatial planning and refugees’ space-making in refugee camps, but the academic interest quickly became irrelevant to me when I lived Kakuma’s day-to-day life with a group of young refugees of my age. 

Instead of pretending to approach the subject of refugee agency as a dispassionate observer, I decided to embrace the personal experience and made a book to document the lives in Kakuma. Through personal narratives of refugees I encountered here, the book deconstructs the image of a refugee camp and challenge some of the current architectural studies of and solutions to the refugee crisis.

The book contains 5 chapters and 96 pages.

Each chapter tells a story of a refugee in Kakuma, and the sub-chapters of this book, 

Becoming a Home      -   Becoming a Trap

The Solidarity             -   Unintended Segregation

The Host Community -  The Minority 

There is No Way Out  -  There is a Way Ou

all intend to infold the complicated layers of lives in a refugee camp. Rather than seeking to conclude, it aims to complicate.

Below is a short clip from the final chapter of the book:

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