Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, History, New York University / NYU Abu Dhabi

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2009
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, University of Michigan
Global 1968 in Kinshasa: From a Student Massacre to Ruins in a Postcolonial University

This project explores a critical event - the student massacre of June 4, 1969 in Kinshasa - and a critical site - Lovanium University -through ethnographic, archival, oral history, and digital history research. It seeks to understand the importance of the 1960s' and 1970s' student movement in the contemporary history of the Congo, as well as its connections with other student movements elsewhere in the world during the same period, thereby adding an African and Congolese chapter to the scholarly discussion on "global 1968." The dissertation will begin with an investigation of the critical event of June 4, 1969, and continue with an analysis of its successive reverberations until the end of Mobutu's regime in 1997, as political actors and opponents to the regime continued to use the symbolic capital offered by the massacred students. The argument is, in part, that June 4 serves as a kind of ground zero for Congolese politics in the Mobutu era and beyond. The political culture of Zaire and later, DR Congo has been fashioned and refashioned in continuous dialogue with the events of June 4, where death and disappearance have structured Congolese political consciousness. Through 12 months of fieldwork in the Congo, I will interrogate the memory of June 4 and political culture under Mobutu. My research methodology will combine the following three approaches: interviews with former students and professors; collection of memories and documents through the means of a website; and an ethnographic study of the spatial and institutional uses of the University campus in relation with memories of the 1960s.