Studying the aspirations of young men, in Mathare, Nairobi, highlights their social becoming in contexts in which they incessantly risk social and physical death. Taking aspiration as a relational concept brings into view the temporal and spatial interactions between different aspirations and how these connect to emerging and future pathways of these young men. The ensuing relationalities at play are analysed through their context-bound negotiations of dominant gender norms to elucidate how these inform their social navigation towards male respectability, now and in the future. Adding the dimension of positionality here is useful to bring out how individual negotiations of gender norms in space and over time allows a nuanced view on situated entanglements of aspirations, pathways and dominant discourses and how these convolute and intensify in particular decision-making processes. The analyses are based on longitudinal ethnographic research with youth gangs in Nairobi for four months annually on average since 2005.

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The European Journal of Development Research

van Stapele, N. (2020). ‘When the Numbers Stop Adding’: Imagining Futures in Perilous Presents Among Youth in Nairobi Ghettos. The European Journal of Development Research. doi:10.1057/s41287-020-00329-1