Article

Claim-making through subjectivation: A governmentality analysis of associational performance to claim land in the hybridity of peri-urban Bukavu

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Abstract

Those who have settled in Bukavu’s periphery in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo cannot rely on statutory title or practices to secure their claims to land. Land is scarce, institutional competition rampant, and predation endemic. Land administration in Bukavu is a paradigmatic case of hybridity: there are a diversity of interpenetrating but competing governance structures, sets of rules, logics of behavior, and technologies by which claims to land may be secured. Motivated by hybridity’s promise of moving beyond normative and often functionalist preoccupations, this study departs from the prevailing actor-oriented approaches on claim-making and instead focuses on the hybridizing, regulatory mechanisms through which subjects become able to make claims to land. For this study we use an ethnographic understanding of Foucault’s Governmentality as that framework allows us to examine subjectivation of land claimants: the technologies, conditions, and effects of the processes of subject formation. In this paper we examine subjectivation within the urban associations which support their members’ claims to land. Each example discussed offers both a description of the technologies by which subjects able to author claims are formed and illuminates distinct aspects of our theoretical framework, governmentality. When looking at claim-making through subjectivation, we find that framework well-fitted to explore ways in which hybridity in land administration in Bukavu may restrict the progress of the most poor by making visible the costs of becoming a subject who may make a valid claim to land.

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... In DRC, for example, steep urban growth was registered as people turned to cities as relatively safe havens. The city of Bukavu grew exponentially due to two decades of conflict, implying higher pressures on urban space and services [20]. Mining sites in remote regions in eastern DRC boomed and became 'mining towns' [21]. ...
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