This article analyzes the interaction of the traces of war with institutional hybridity in shaping the use of space in the periphery of Bukavu, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. In peri-urban Bukavu, the urbanization of previously rural areas has created an uncertain mixture of land allocation mechanisms that are not adequately explained by representation in terms of a clash or mixture of statutory and customary law. This hybridity has created uncertainty for both newcomers and early settlers in which the othering and violence required to justify both encroachment on, and the protection of, land are supported by discourses of autochthony. Large parts of peri-urban Bukavu, in particular the area of Kasha, are gradually being balkanized by quasi-voluntary socio-spatial practices of segregation by ethnicities whose existence and salience are constantly, and at times forcibly, re-negotiated. While initially perceived as a safe haven, the city’s periphery is becoming an area of acute insecurity.
- DR Congo