Urban youth gangs in Goma and Kisangani: the role of violence in subject formation

01 October 2020 → 30 September 2024
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Criminological theories
    • Private policing and security services
    • Punishment and criminal justice
    • Youth and life course criminology
    • Local and urban politics
    • Political organisations and institutions not elsewhere classified
    • Political theory
    • Research methods in political science
gangs violence subjectivity
Project description

Globally violent conflict becomes increasingly urban. This makes a deep and grounded understanding of urban violence a pressing concern. The present project aims to contribute to this endeavour, focussing upon gang violence in Goma and Kisangani (DR Congo). To complement and go beyond the ‘bad governance leads to urban crime and violence’ perspective, the current project aims to analyse gang violence within larger postcolonial relations of power, 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 youth 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 and as a repertoire to carve out economic and political space for themselves. Ultimately, inspired by the discussion initiated by Hannah Arendt and Franz Fanon, the project probes how dystopian gang violence, often between disenfranchised, can be re-directed towards a more emancipatory project. Methodologically, it relies on the ethnographic method and participatory video techniques. It is situated at the crossroad of three bodies of academic literature: studies on urban violence and conflict, the literature on gang violence, and theoretical debates on re-directing violence towards an emancipatory project.