Reinventing Order in the Congo: How People Respond to State Failure in Kinshasa

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Theodore Trefon
Zed Books, 2004 - Business & Economics - 222 pages
1 Review
The populations of many Third World mega-cities have far outstripped any apparent economic basis for their size and survival. In this volume Congolese and Western social scientists cover most aspects of urban life in Kinshasa--how ordinary people hustle for a modest living; the famous "bargaining" system ordinary Kinois have developed; and how they access food, water supplies, health and education. The NGOization of service provision is analyzed, as is the quite rare incidence of urban riots. Equally interesting are the studies of popular discourses (including street rumor, witchcraft, and attitudes to big men, like musicians and preachers). The studies are full of the most startling facts and the wonderfully evocative phrases coined by ordinary Kinois as they confront the huge obstacle course that is urban life. Concrete, readable, intensely interesting, and always illuminating, this book is a model of how to do urban sociology in the developing world today.

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Review: Reinventing Order in the Congo: How People Respond to State Failure in Kinshasa

User Review  - Katherine - Goodreads

A bit academic, but given the number of books written about Kinshasa, I shouldn't complain. Read full review


The Kinshasa Bargain
Water Distribution and Supply
Coping with Adversity
New Approaches
University of Kinshasa
When Kinois Take to the Streets
Children the Occult
Rumours about Fame
Chapter Abstracts in French

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About the author (2004)

Dr Theodore Trefon was educated at Boston University. He is an independent researcher and consultant currently based at the Free University of Brussels. He is also President of the Brussels Centre of African Studies. His research focuses on state-society relations, urban anthropology and environmental governance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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