Accepted paper:

Urban expansion and place-making in Kinshasa (D.R.Congo)


Filip De Boeck (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)

Paper short abstract:

Building upon recent ethnographic work with land chiefs in Kinshasa,this papers explores some of the mechanisms of urban expansion and the various processes of place-making underlying the opening up of new land in Kinshasa.

Paper long abstract:

As elsewhere across the African continent, Kinshasa has become a major site for the realization and implementation of neo-liberal urban expansion projects. Often conceived in the form of gated communities and satellite cities, these building projects redraw the geographies of urban inclusion and exclusion in radical ways. And yet, they remain somehow very marginal to the urban dynamics of everyday life and to equally powerful forms of urban expansion and place-making that do find their starting point not so much in the logic of a global neo-liberal capitalism, but in processes connecting the city to the rural hinterland and its moral and political frameworks. I will analyse how, in order to access and open up new land in Kinshasa's peripheries, Kinois have to pass through Humbu and Teke ancestral land chiefs who are not officially recognized by the city's administration and whose activities therefore remain largely under the radars of the city and the state, but who form nonetheless the real motor of Kinshasa's urban growth, redefining in the process what the city is.

panel P121
Spirit of place