Kenya and South Korea

11 July 2011

KENYA AND SOUTH KOREA VOICES FROM THE CITIES Professor Peter Wasamba of the University of Nairobi, Kenya introduces a new joint oral history research project involving universities in Kenya and Korea:

‘This project focuses on people’s perceptions of urbanisation in Kenya and Korea and is led by Professor Peter Wasamba in Kenya and Dr Park Young from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, South Korea. The research project is funded for two years, from November 2010 by the Academy of Korean Studies in Seoul; interviewing will start in March 2011. ‘Both Kenya and Korea experienced rapid urban growth during the second half of the twentieth century, and it had a significant impact on both societies. Rapid urbanisation is associated with a number of problems such as deterioration in urban physical environments, lack of shelter, displacement of indigenous populations, inflated land prices, traffic congestion, rise in crime and the decline of general living conditions of the urban poor.

‘We argue that the modification of urban development strategies, occasioned by changes in the global political economy, necessitated urban restructuring in the capital cities of Kenya and Korea from as early as the 1980s. It is in this regard that this study documents memories about urban restructuring in the capital cities using the methodology of oral history.
‘For a long time, the study of urbanisation has largely been dominated by quantitative analysis of statistical data. This is precise in terms of describing patterns of economic and social mobility but less effective at looking into the impacts of urbanisation on the lives of city residents. ‘Significantly the use of oral history will “give voice” to ordinary people in urban settings and particularly to ones whose voices are often not listened to.
It provides an opportunity for the perspectives of urban women, the elderly, people with disabilities and youth to take centre stage in the history of urbanisation in the two cities.’ l For more information about the project please contact Professor Peter Wasamba:

Source: International News Section of UK's Oral History Journal, Spring 2011, p24.

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