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Precarious spaces and violent site effects: Experiences from Hargeisa’s urban margins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Kirsti Stuvoy, Jutta Bakonyi, Peter Chonka

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-176
Number of pages24
JournalConflict, Security & Development
Issue number2
Accepted/In press19 Apr 2021
Published11 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [ES/R002355/1]. We would like to thank Abdirahman Edle, Ahmed Abdulahi Dualeh, Omar Dirie and an unnamed research assistant who either conducted or helped us to conduct the interviews and photovoice sessions in Hargeisa. We are also grateful to all of the research participants for giving their time to share experiences and insights with us. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

King's Authors


This paper addresses precarity from a spatial perspective. It draws attention to how power becomes inscribed in urban space and shapes particular spatial arrangements connected with socio-economic vulnerabilities. This is empirically illustrated with a case study of Hargeisa, a city historically marked by the violence of the Somali civil war. Our analysis draws on interviews and participant photography, to fore-ground the ‘everyday’ experiences of residents living in the city’s marginal settlements. We point to the operations of power that produce political, economic and social deprivation but also agentic options for these residents who experience, cope with, struggle with and work against their marginalisation. Interconnecting precarity with geographies of violence, we elaborate the concept of ‘violent site effects’ as a means to explain how power inscribed in spatial arrangements can cause harm to people. We emphasise violence as built into structures and as part of social orders that produce precarity. This, we argue, provides a basis on which to reflect on the dynamic ways in which inequality, insecurity and thus, vulnerabilities, are produced and reproduced in the processes of urban reconstruction.

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