À Goma on sait jamais... Jugend im ganz normalen Ausnahmezustand in Goma, DR Kongo


Dr. Silke Oldenburg

Research Area:


Goma is one of the urban spotlights of a war which marks the Eastern DR Congo for more than 15 years. Based on 13 months of fieldwork my PhD project intends to explore how adolescents interpret and integrate the times of war and uncertainty into their daily lives. Illustrating the heterogeneous living realities of youth, the study will focus on experiences, hopes and imaginations of young people growing up in Goma.

Often youth are characterized as perpetrators or victims of violence – but they are also analysts of the highly complex conflict setting surrounding their never stable everyday lives. By analyzing, they assign sense to different events, spaces, rumours and narratives. Therefore my project intends to explore ubiquitous narratives from different milieus. Leaving the “victim-perpetrator”-dichotomy behind the study focuses on “ordinary” youth. Main questions are: How does a young barber, a market girl, a student or a mototaximan reflect, analyze and routinize conflict and violence while observing his or her fast changing socio-political environment? How is a kind of “normality” produced, imagined and felt in a city which is generally associated with war, hopelessness and decay? How do youth themselves judge their positions, opportunities and perspectives trying to establish an order within their social worlds? In short: what does it mean to grow up in Goma?