Vendors in the hot sun: Selling books in Nairobi’s shadow economy


The lookout point in Nairobi’s smart Upperhill district provides an admirable city vista where glistening new buildings pop against faded infrastructure—all evidence of Kenya’s stuttering but undeniable emergence from poverty. But from the bustling boulevard where Joe carefully lays out his books every morning, the view is much different. As a second-hand book seller, he is a member of Kenya’s...

Livestock for some, ownership debates for all: A review of Who Owns the Stock? Collective and Multiple Property Rights in Animals


Reviewed in this essay: Who Owns the Stock? Collective and Multiple Property Rights in Animals, Khazanov, Anatoly and Günther Schlee, eds., Berghahn Books, 2012. This volume suggests that, in the face of the rapid diffusion of the notion of private property across the globe, there remain three main domains of objects subject to more complicated arrangements: “land,” “large domestic animals,” and...

Reading for mental wealth: Second-hand books a source of business and pleasure in Nairobi streets


Three-year-old Maxwell Gitau has a lot to live up to. He is named for his father’s hero: John C. Maxwell the self-styled leadership guru and motivational speaker from Garden City, Michigan, whose books have sold over 19 million copies and hit the New York Times bestseller list. Maxwell’s father, David Gitau, makes his living selling second-hand books on a pollution-steeped street in downtown...