“Poverty” and the Politics of Syncopation: Urban Examples from Kinshasa (DR Congo)

By means of an ethnographic “urban acupuncture” of a specific building within the city of Kinshasa, this article explores how poverty effects emerging publics in the city. Poverty “rhythms” city life in specific ways, and these rhythms may be best understood in terms of a politics of the syncopated and the suspended through which urban publics are constantly splintered and reassembled. The suspensions and missed beats that thus punctuate urban daily living often produce violence, closure, and isolation, but simultaneously they also generate unexpected accents that form openings into the “something else” of the offbeat track, thereby hinting at the (always vulnerable and equally problematic) possibility of alternative collective action and the ad hoc creation of new groups, publics, and public spaces.

Full article by Current Anthropology via JStor (free PDF)

Photo credit: United Nations Photo


Publication Type Journal Article
Publisher The University of Chicago Press
Year 2015
Author(s) Filip De Boeck
Other Numbers Vol. 56, No. S11, Politics of the Urban Poor: Aesthetics, Ethics, Volatility, Precarity, pp. S146-S158
DOI 10.1086/682392
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