THE VIGILANTES OF GOMA: Urban Youth, Hybrid Security Provision & Urban Dynamics of Crime and Violence in Times of Conflict

01 October 2014 → 30 September 2018
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund, Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Criminology
    • Law
criminality safety
Project description

Located at the Congo-Rwandan border, the city of Goma finds itself at the very heart of the
protracted armed conflict that strikes the Eastern provinces of the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). This PhD proposal examines urban dynamics of security provision in Goma. More specifically, the focus lies on one of the non-state security providers in the city: the so-called selfdefence groups. In a general context of increased urban crime levels, conflict dynamics and a state structure that has largely lost its grip over the city, these youngsters - as a local variant of vigilantes - set up observation posts and perform patrols to secure their neighborhood (Büscher, 2011). By means of a long-term ethnographic fieldwork, this PhD project aims to analyze the role of self-defence groups in the construction of law and order in the city. And more broadly, to which extent these local security providers contribute to the reproduction of the social and political
order in Goma.
Self-defence groups will not be not analyzed as exotic Others “apart from the world”, but as worldly citizens in a city where local conflict dynamics, global cultural flows and a capitalist economic system intermingle (Mbembe & Nuttal, 2004). This research proposal contributes to social scientific discussions on urban governance, conflict urbanity, hybrid security provision or policing, youngsters in conflict situations, globalization and the Sub-Saharan African state.