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Borderlands, identity and urban development: the case of Goma (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

Vlassenroot, Koen and Buscher, K. (2013) Borderlands, identity and urban development: the case of Goma (Democratic Republic of the Congo). Urban Studies, 50 (15). pp. 3168-3184. ISSN 0042-0980

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0042098013487772


This paper challenges traditional studies that explore border sites from a central or capital city perspective. Focusing on expressions of identity in the border city of Goma, it illustrates how the struggle for political, social and economic control affects local urban life and has broader implications for regional relationships and realities. The paper suggests that Goma must be understood as a site of change and fluidity rather than (as borders are commonly depicted) a static and dependent environment, whose increasing sense of autonomy is directly linked to state decline and to the dynamics of regional conflict. Goma has become an area of military rebellion, political struggle and economic competition, as well as a city of flourishing transborder trade and economic opportunity. The paper highlights the need to follow closely the increasing national and regional role that Goma, and other emerging urban centres on the periphery, are playing. This analysis was concluded early 2012 and does not include recent developments related to the M23 rebellion

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 Urban Studies Journal Limited
Divisions: Justice and Security Research Programme
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Sets: Research centres and groups > Justice and Security Research Consortium (JSRP)
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2014 14:27
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2021 05:07
Funders: Fund for Scientific Research, Flanders

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