PhD student, Department of International Planning Studies (IPS), Faculty of Spatial Planning, TU Dortmund, Germany
Research Associate, Department of International Planning Studies (IPS), Faculty of Spatial Planning, TU Dortmund, Germany; teaching and research collaboration, including collaborative research project with the University of Nairobi on "Urban Waterscapes and the Pandemic" (2021/22)
Freelance researcher & consultant in urban/development research for various clients (Africa Collect Textile, KHM, Samuel Hall, ...)
2017 – 2018
Research Project Officer, Samuel Hall, Nairobi, Kenya; research projects in several African countries focusing on migration, children/youth, and ICT
2014 – 2017
M.Sc. Urban Design, HafenCity Universität, Hamburg, Germany
2014 – 2016
Back Office Coordinator, HafenCity Hamburg GmbH, Hamburg, Germany
2012 – 2014
Project staff and online editor, Goethe-Institut, Nairobi, Kenya; various international and local cultural and exchange projects, e.g. "Ten Cities: Public Sphere, Urban Space, Club Culture"
2011 – 2012
Freelance Scientist, GP Research Group, Munich, Germany
2008 – 2011
B.Sc. Geography, Ludwig-Maxilimians-Universität, Munich, Germany
Water tanks, jerry cans, power banks: Artefacts and practices of storage as part of heterogeneous infrastructure configurations in Nairobi
Despite the importance of infrastructures and basic services for urban lives and economies, many agglomerations across the globe struggle with the universal and centralized provision of water and electricity. Especially in southern cities, basic supply is less defined by the ideal of the ‘networked city’ but rather by heterogeneous infrastructure configurations involving diverse socio-technical sets of providers, sources, materialities, and practices. Amidst such configurations, urban residents – for example in Nairobi, Kenya – navigate infrastructural heterogeneity and its uncertainty caused by water rationings, blackouts and other interruptions. One of those key coping mechanisms is: Storage. Households of various backgrounds and sizes store water and electricity in water tanks, jerry cans, power banks, battery back-up systems, and more. However, storage is rarely discussed as part of the infrastructural functioning of southern cities, such as Nairobi, and elsewhere.
Embedded in current discourses of postcolonial urban studies and STS-inspired infrastructure studies, with my PhD project I will research and theorize on urban-infrastructural realities in Nairobi as an example of Southern urbanism in the early 21st century. Focusing on domestic storage of water and electricity, I thus hope to provide a view of storage as elemental part of everyday lives and heterogeneous infrastructure configurations. Ultimately, I explore how storage, its artefacts and practices cumulate in a ‘storage city’ that is not opposed to the ‘networked city’ but is entangled with it and, thus, constitutes a part of place-specific heterogeneous infrastructure configurations that defy interpretations as infrastructural failures only.
Given the lack of existing material and theory on private storage, its artifacts and practices, my PhD project follows a largely qualitative, explorative, and inductive research approach. My research process is defined by iterative, entangled cycles of questions and objectives, fieldwork and other data collection, and analysis and synthesis. For this, I conduct case study research on storage in Nairobi, with the city as only one of many cases where storage of water and/or electricity is ubiquitous yet understudied and with a variety of individual cases of individual storage situations, or dispositifs, in Nairobi. Geographically spread over four purposefully selected locations I draw from expert interviews, go-alongs and strolls, diverse qualitative interviews, home stays for participatory observations, and group discussions to answer my main question, “What roles and relevance do artefacts and practices of water and electricity storage hold within heterogeneous infrastructure configurations and everyday lives in Nairobi?”
Kasper, M. und Stroomer, E. (2021) ‘Multiplying textile lives. Textile collection and recycling in urban Africa’, AGATHÓN, 9, pp. 224–231. doi: 10.19229/2464-9309/9222021.
Stroomer, E., Kasper, M. und Andrew-Essien, E. (2020) Textile Collection for Re-Use and Recycling in Lagos, Nigeria – Context, Constraints, Opportunities – Final Report. Africa Collect Textiles.
Co-author – Samuel Hall (2019) Dropping Out? A Participatory Exploration of Adolescent School Journeys in Zambia. UNICEF Zambia.
Co-author – Samuel Hall (2017) Coming Together: A critical analysis of key issues, actors and tools in the current global landscape of Family Tracing & Reunification. IKEA Foundation.
Co-author – Samuel Hall (2017) Youth Employment in Kenya: Literature Review. British Council.
Kasper, M., Kengyel, N., Colson, A. und Trianti, A. (2016) ‘Absence: Architectural reconfigurations in time and space’, PLAT Journal, 6.
“Jerry cans, super drums, water tanks: Domestic water storage as critical infrastructure in Nairobi”, Urban Circulations conference, 23 Juni 2022, KRITIS, Darmstadt, Germany
“Storage city: Water tanks, jerry cans, and batteries as infrastructure in Nairobi”, Beyond Splintering Urbanism workshop, 21-25 März 2022, Autun, France
“Urban waterscapes and the pandemic: Changing water infrastructures and governance in Nairobi”, Development Days 2022, 17-18 Februar 2022, Finnish Society for Development Research, Helsinki, Finland