Globally violent conflict is becoming increasingly urban. This makes a deep and grounded understanding of urban violence a pressing concern. This project aims to contribute to this endeavor, focusing upon gang violence in Goma and Kisangani (DR Congo). To go beyond the ‘bad governance leads to urban crime and violence’ perspective, the project analyses gang violence within larger postcolonial power relations, whilst starting from the lived experience of gang members themselves. Theoretically, this project builds upon the concept of political subjectivity and questions its relationship with violence. It examines the interplay between the ways youths in Congolese urban gangs are formed by violence on the one hand; and on the other, how they deploy violence, as a form of agency to carve out economic and political space for themselves. Ultimately, the project analyses what these loops of violence produce in terms of gang subjectivities and order-making in these Congolese cities. Methodologically, it relies on ethnography mixed with an innovative participatory video approach. It is situated at the crossroads of three bodies of academic literature: studies on urban violence and conflict, literature on gang violence, and theoretical debates on violence and subject formation.

  • Funding: Gangs, violence, subjectivity, DRCongo
  • Time: 2020-2023
  • People involved: Maarten Hendriks