This project sets out to investigate ‘hidden’ forms of urbanity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in order to achieve a better understanding of the profoundly political character of rapid urbanisation in Sub-Saharan Africa. Several of Congo’s provinces experience the unplanned mushrooming of new small towns in areas that have been predominantly rural, a process that has received only limited academic and policy attention.

From a political anthropological perspective, our project proposes an innovative approach to processes of urbanisation in the DRC, by bringing the political to the centre of analytical attention, presenting these ‘hidden’ towns as vital nodes in broader political-economic and military constellations. The fundamental objective of this research project is to provide a new framework of analysis for understanding the political dimensions of urbanisation that have structurally been ignored in Sub-Saharan Africa. Through ethnographic fieldwork in two hidden towns in the provinces of North and South Kivu in the DRC, the research project investigates how the emergence and growth of hidden towns in the rural hinterlands of the DRC is a highly political as well as politicised process, turning these towns into crucial objects as well as arenas of local, provincial and national struggles for power and control.

  • Funding: FWO
  • Time: 2021-2024
  • People involved: Karen Büscher (PI), Kasper Hofmann (Researcher), Jeroen Cuvelier (Researcher)