Contested fiscal geographies: urban authority, everyday practice, and emerging state-finance relations

Cape Town
Publication type
Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
Urban Public Finance
Liza Cirolia



The study of fiscal geographies foregrounds the spatialities of fiscal instruments, such as taxes or bonds. Of central concern in the fiscal geographies literature are the ways that fiscal spaces are co-constituted with stateform and the built environment. Recent scholarship argues for ‘placing’ fiscal geographies in urban studies, drawing attention to the ways in which fiscal tools shape urban governance and the material development of city spaces. I build on this work, further placing fiscal geographies in the context of an ordinary city in Africa, Kisumu (Kenya). Inspired by conceptual and methodological debates within the ‘African urbanism’ literature, I provide a rich account of two ‘sites’ through which Kisumu’s fiscal geographies are given effect. First, I focus on the newly formed Kisumu County Government. The County represents a reterritorialization of urban authority. This authority is given substance, and contested, through fiscal instruments. Second, I focus on low-level bureaucrats. I foreground the relationship between fiscal policy and everyday practices. These two sites draw our attention to the multiple and relational logics at play in Kisumu’s fiscal geographies.

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