Agency, social space and conflict-urbanism in eastern Congo
Book Item (Buchkapitel, Lexikonartikel, jur. Kommentierung, Beiträge in Sammelbänden)
 
ID 4501502
Author(s) Oldenburg, Silke
Author(s) at UniBasel Oldenburg, Silke
Year 2019
Title Agency, social space and conflict-urbanism in eastern Congo
Editor(s) Büscher, Karen
Book title Urban Africa and Violent Conflict. Understanding Conflict Dynamics in Central and Eastern Africa from an Urban Perspective
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication London
Pages 62-80
Keywords Agency; social space; conflicturbanism; D.R. Congo; motorcycle taxis; Lefebvre
Abstract

War, a protracted humanitarian crisis and the omnipresence of an
active volcano in eastern Congo’s North Kivu province have had a
massive impact on the formation of urban social space in Goma.
Recent perspectives on urbanity in Africa echo complaints about the
ungovernability of mushrooming cities and the appraisal of urban
vitality and innovation. Studies that consider and reflect both the
agency of the actors and the city as a structured setting are still rare
and virtually non-existent in urban and conflict theories. Based on
extensive anthropological fieldwork since 2008, this actor-centred
approach provides insights into Goma’s “conflict-urbanism” by
examining the particular nexus of roads, rumours and roaming the
city. Therefore, this paper identifies how urbanites or more precisely
motorcycle taxi drivers (motards) engage in the formation of social
space across the city and how dialectically the city is transformed by
their practices. In particular, motards connect diverse urban
landscapes and social networks while transporting people, goods
and information in a fast transforming context. Furthermore, as
urban infrastructure, roads provide or restrict access to certain urban
areas, are used to transport conflict-related material or information,
are spaces of trade and commerce, and their condition is part of
everyday communication. This hints at my take on conflict-urbanism
which is based on Lefebvre’s “production of space” (1974). My
contribution interrogates how conflict-cities can be conceptualized
through paying attention to urbanites’ imagination of Goma’s social
space. By investigating the dialectical processes of agency, the
different actors’ perceptions of urban space and their impact on the
material and social environment, this paper demonstrates how the
urban in Goma is lived, conceived and perceived and argues that an
ethnography of motards’ everyday lives provides an in-depth locallevel
analysis of the relationship between urbanization and
protracted armed conflict in eastern Congo.

URL https://www.routledge.com/Urban-Africa-and-Violent-Conflict-Understanding-Conflict-Dynamics-in-Central/Buscher/p/book/9780367236878
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