Title: Cemetery State: Notes concerning a film-in-the-making on youth and death in Kinshasa
Authors: De Boeck, Filip #
Issue Date: 2008
Conference: Emerging Perspectives in the Anthropology of Childhood location:Brunel University, London(UK) date:May 15th 2008
Abstract: 'Cemetery State: Notes concerning a film-in-the-making on youth and death in Kinshasa'

In April 2008, Filip De Boeck was filming in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in preparation for a documentary film on youth and death in one of this city’s main cemeteries. He will present some of the rushes, which provide disquieting evidence about the seemingly counterintuitive ways in which people confronted with powerful problems articulate a semblance of sociality out of the very source of their desperation. In the face of economic ruin, homelessness, Apocalyptic predictions, and baseless hopes, young Kinois have designed a new architecture of urban survival for which death, by seeping so visibly and violently into the fabric of life, now serves as an inspirational force, a structural support, a framing device. In a world where mourning has reconfigured meaning, where cemeteries have become dwellings for the living, and where coffins are likened to the footballs that boys toss around, the only way to live is to manage death. By taking control of the bodies, and on occasion, abducting them or making them disappear, youngsters have created their own necropolitics, and transformed the whole economy of death management, its terms, and its boundaries. For young Kinois, dying is no longer a departure from life, it has become that which gives life its significance, density, and directionality. In so doing, they have in turn reconfigured their own place in society, threatening older forms of authority even as they struggle to recreate continuity and generation. The film focuses on the generative dimension of death, that is the power that death has not simply to mortify life but in fact to enliven it.
Description: Keynote Lecture
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa
# (joint) last author

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