Since the ‘performative turn’ in social sciences, ethnographers have extensively studied how performances both constitute the subject and method of social theory but rarely understood the political potential that lies in it for research participants. This article looks at how young urban activists in the city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo (hereafter Congo) politically appropriated performances that were initially meant as a research tool. Using audiovisual methods, this article analyzes three musical performances that were part of collaborative ethnographic research with a political youth group in Goma’s urban periphery. The members of this group used songs produced during the research process to create new identities and subvert political labels applied to them by outsiders. While this political storytelling of the self is an imperfect process, it signifies how ethnographic knowledge is not simply representational but always (co-)produced and performative.

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