Research seminar with Mads Yding, Aarhus University
From the 1960s, the international donor community flocked to Turkana District in northern Kenya. In the following decades, a series of drought spurred an increasing intensification of the relief and development efforts in this arid corner of Kenya. Outside donors invested enormous efforts and huge sums in famine relief and general poverty reduction; however, the results failed to happen. In many cases, development efforts seem to have had the opposite effect and increased poverty, inequality, and vulnerability. By taking a close look at the dynamics at play in two enclaves of development in Turkana, this talk explores how donor efforts shaped the lives and social structures in Turkana and how the Turkana navigated the projects and molded them to their own agendas.
Mads Yding: I am currently finishing my Ph.D. dissertation at Aarhus University. My work focuses on colonialism and development efforts in Turkana in the 20th century. As a historian, I combine archival research and oral history to explore questions of local agency in and perspectives on outside influences and development efforts. My research on development initiatives attempts to move beyond the labels of “success” and “failure” and instead investigates how interventions played out and formed new conditions for everyday life in local settings. I have worked extensively with fishing communities along the western shores of Lake Turkana and cultivation communities along River Turkwell, in northwestern Kenya.
Photo: Lodwar - the largest town in the Turkana County in northwestern Kenya.