This PhD-project in Kisumu asks how the Western Kenyan city is experienced and constantly re-made by young adults inclined to art. With an approach that relies on both anthropology and art history, it looks at the daily lived experience of artists and their works (poetry, painting, ‘artivism’) as well as at their urban audiences.

Particular attention is paid to how young adults deal with the disruptive and repressive context characterized by different kinds of violence (election-related violence, police and gang violence, economic-structural violence).

The study aims to answer the question why an overwhelming majority of young adults from Kenyan ghettos self-identify as artists, and how in a context of mass-unemployment, making art allows to counter the many uncertainties and hardships that growing up in urban Kenya entails.

Project Period

February 2015 - December 2020


Prof. Till Förster and Prof. Dominique Malaquais


Swiss National Science Foundation