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African FuturesEssays on Crisis, Emergence, and Possibility$
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Brian Goldstone and Juan Obarrio

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226402246

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226402413.001.0001

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Local Futures, the Future of the Local: Urban Living in a Central African Metropolis

Local Futures, the Future of the Local: Urban Living in a Central African Metropolis

(p.151) Eleven Local Futures, the Future of the Local: Urban Living in a Central African Metropolis
African Futures

Filip De Boeck

University of Chicago Press

This chapter offers an attempt at re-inhabiting the notion of the local, and bring it out of the shadow of the global. The question is not only how to reassess the local as analytical unit, but how to transcend the local and global as separate categories, and offer alternative ways to perceive emerging socialities (commerce, movement, authority, violence, combat and crisis) normally difficult to grasp. I focus on the lives of the residents of Kinshasa and reflect on the lines of flight, decentering moves, and future possibilities that urban residents generate within this urban context that forces them to step back from habitual ways of thinking and acting. Local urban lives are profoundly marked by the accidental, and that is also why their memories often remain diffuse, opaque. Therefore, local lives remain difficult to capture within historicist approaches of modernity and its ideologies of linear development, progress and accumulation. The immediate and dystopian quality of surviving in the local moment of the urban seems to be removed from the utopian futurities that the state has on offer. The promise of the redemption of one’s soul in a blissful afterlife often seems equally distant and far removed from daily reality.

Keywords:   Kinshasa, locality, sociality, urbanism, utopia

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