In poor urban neighborhoods in Nairobi, Kenya, Covid-19 related restrictions have resulted in tremendous economic setbacks for residents. Through their SSRC-funded research, Anders Ese, Kristin Ese, Joseph Mukeku, Benjamin Sidori, and Romola Sanyal interviewed women traders to make connections between Covid-related setbacks, the practices of containment, and assistance provided by authorities. While the women they spoke to recognize that they often suffer unjustly at the hands of local officials, they also show notable support for both the restrictions and the powers that enforce them, helping cement long-standing and inequitable practices.
Romola Sanyal is associate professor of urban ge-ography at the London School of Economics. She has a PhD in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. Sanyal’s research focuses on forced migration and urbanization. In one strand of her research, she looks at how refugees and other forced migrants become “city mak-ers” through building and inhabiting urban spaces. In this work, she has studied Palestinian ref-ugee camps in Beirut and Partition refugee colonies in Calcutta. A second strand of this work looks at the geopolitics of humanitarian knowledge production, particularly on urban refugees. Titled Urban Humanitarianism, this work looks at how humanitarian organizations come to learn from and intervene in urban areas through various experiments and what politics are involved in building and sharing that knowledge. Her work has been published in a number of journals, including Urban Studies, IJURR, Transactions of the Institute of British Geogra-phers, and Political Geography. She is coeditor of Urbanizing Citizenship: Contested Spaces in Indian Cities (with Renu Desai; Sage India, 2011) and Displacement: Global Conversations on Refuge (with Silvia Pasquetti; Manchester University Press, 2020).