(RESEARCH) FINDING KAKUMA: THE LIFE OF A REFUGEE CAMP
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
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 Out
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: