3: Camp Urbanization and Humanitarian Entrepreneurship

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Despite occupying a subordinate position in the urban context, displaced people influence how cities are evolving, and shape their morphologies and patterns of growth. Their agency here is embedded in a political economy of rent-seeking that is intertwined with international aid. This chapter outlines the multiple facets and ambiguities of the clientelistic networks that underpin these rent-seeking practices and demonstrates how urban newcomers act within and through these networks to secure their survival. The creation of settlements associated with displacement can increase the value ascribed to land. The chapter links these processes to wider insights on the development of real estate markets for domestic urban capital, which are often driven by local and diasporic investors, and which accompany the infrastructural focus of global capital penetration in contemporary African cities. Comparatively highlighting distinctive aspects of camp urbanization in Somali cities, the chapter shows how the combination of protracted violence, urban reconstruction and mass in-migration has been accompanied by cycles of forced evictions that initiate nascent forms of urban gentrification.

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