Storage city: Water tanks, jerry cans, and batteries as infrastructure in Nairobi
Author / Authors:
Urban Studies, 60(12), 2400–2417. https://doi.org/10.1177/00420980221144575
Against the ‘normative concept of the networked city’, urban studies and infrastructure research have seen a shift towards investigations beyond the network that engage with the post-networked city, heterogeneous infrastructures, and other situations ‘on, off, below and beyond’ the grid, especially in southern cities. Expanding on debates around southern urbanisms and their socio-technical infrastructures, we explore a ubiquitous yet rarely discussed element of contemporary urban infrastructures: storage. In Nairobi, a city shaped by infrastructural heterogeneity and uncertainty, households of all backgrounds and sizes store water and electricity within various constellations of actors, practices and artefacts. We show how domestic storage, its artefacts and practices cumulate in a storage city that is not opposed to a networked or post-networked city but rather entangled with it. We present domestic storage as crucial infrastructure to the socio-technical functioning of Nairobi, discuss diverse storage artefacts and practices, and highlight how a focus on storage can contribute to re-imaginings of infrastructural articulations beyond networks and flows.
- Journal Article