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The School of Human Evolution and Social Change will host a public lecture by guest speaker Rahul C. Oka.
With 65 million displaced peoples globally, and with more than 15 million (ware)housed in permanent semi-urban spaces mainly in developing nations, the issue of sustainability of relief has become paramount. Recently, there has been a shift in relief perspectives: instead of encampment, refugees could generate sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their hosts. This talk will focus on the results of a multi-disciplinary project aimed at understanding and measuring the feasibility of such a shift at Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya (pop. 210,000).
Using ethnographic, econometric, archaeological, social network and biological analyses, Oka (a) describes and models the complexities of the political, commercial and social economies at Kakuma; (b) explores the intersections of these economies with structural violence of marginalization and endemic conflict; and (c) generates predictive analytics for the consideration of stakeholders. These results of integrative anthropological research have been acknowledged, desired and (most importantly) funded by the World Bank. With current fears over the perceived loss of relevance of anthropology, Oka suggests that such integrative approaches have the greatest potential of regaining programmatic and public relevance.
Rahul C. Oka is the Ford Family Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. His research interests include exchange, urbanism, and applications of social network analysis and mathematical modeling to complex socio-economic systems. He focuses on the relationships between commerce and trade on social, political and cultural infrastructures.