Kinshasa: An Urban Elite Considers City, Nation And State


The declining salience of the nation state has led to an interest in whether other socially constructed forms, such as the city, have replaced it as a source of accumulation, belief and identity. This article seeks to explore whether this is true in the case of the capital of one of Africa’s least successful states, Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A survey explored the views towards the city of Kinshasa on the past of a variety of middle-class professional people as potential leaders in different occupations resident in different quarters of the city with roots in different parts of the DRC. Despite their somewhat abject material condition and despite extensive contacts internationally, the old dream of the nation state remains relatively strong among them while feelings towards the city largely reflect its situation in that dream rather than any new kind of loyalty. Members this class have extensive national networks of professional contact that help define their identity. New kinds of urban identity with cultural or political meaning beyond this could not be discerned contrary to the perspective held out initially.

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Publication Type Journal article
Publisher Journal of Contemporary African Studies
Year 2011
Author(s) Bill Freund
Other Numbers Accession Number: Jan2011, Vol. 29 Issue 1, p33-48
DOI 10.1080/02589001.2011.533058
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