Institutt for sosialantropologi
bsas seminar

Neil Carrier - Mobile phones, people and photography: Somali visual practices in Nairobi’s Eastleigh estate

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Neil Carrier


The coming of the mobile phone camera has transformed photography, and this paper explores this transformation through a case study of photography in Eastleigh, a Nairobi estate home to many Somalis, both Kenyan Somalis and refugees from Somalia.

It examines Eastleigh as photographic subject and setting, comparing the ubiquity of mobile phone photography there with seldom-practised more traditional forms of photography that are often treated with suspicion in an estate subject to securitized government policy and negative press. It shows how mobile phone photography helps people in the estate communicate visually with the wider Somali diaspora through social media, and sell their goods.

The paper also explores how Somalis have used photography and social media to take control of how the estate is represented, and to demand from the state better services and better treatment.


Refreshments will be served after the talk.

All are welcome! 


Neil Carrier is a Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Bristol. He has conducted a wide range of research in East Africa and among its diaspora, covering such topics as the drugs trade, photography and film, cultural heritage and urban transformation. Much of his recent research has focused on the Nairobi estate of Eastleigh, transformed in the last two decades by Somalis into a major commercial hub of East Africa.