Dr. Silke Oldenburg: Anticipatory practices in uncertain times: Youth, future and the quest for meaning in Goma, Eastern Congo.

11.10.2017 18:15 bis 19:45

Die Veranstaltung findet am Etnhnologischen Seminar der Universität Basel, Münsterplatz 19, statt.

Goma in Eastern DRC is a context where critical events have turned into ‘critical continuities’, where crises and the ordinary seem to be interchangeable. This is the background for young people’s everyday lives and their imagination of the future.

The outstanding characteristic of uncertainty is its lack of knowledge. So, uncertainty is an open, subjective, social but also analytical concept and state of being. Furthermore, future, the state of becoming so to say, is a social perception of time which massively plays in dealings with uncertainty.

Experiences of radical transformations in everyday life are linked up with a fragmentation or loss of routines, knowledge and relations, in short: of certainties. This loss of certainties, knowledge or routines does not necessarily result in apathy or passivity; rather, actors strive to produce and gain knowledge, and thereby make a situation more predictable and meaningful.

Drawing on data from ethnographic research in Goma since 2008, this talk will focus on young people’s actions and imaginations in uncertain times. I will demonstrate how by assigning meaning to extraordinary events, young people try to tame uncertainty in order to create anticipatory practices and aim at a better future amidst seemingly limiting circumstances.