‘Saving the Congo’: transnational social fields and politics of home in the Congolese diaspora
David Garbin, Marie Godin
This paper explores the diasporic ‘politics of home’ of Congolese migrants in Europe, in particular in the UK, and to a lesser extent in Belgium. We focus on the fragmentation and heterogeneity of the diasporic political sphere by examining the role of first generation activists, religious groups, as well as youth and women's organisations. Within the transnational political field, first generation leaders are in a dominant position and the involvement of other groups, such as women and young people is marginalised by their control of the diasporic ‘rules of the game’ in the Bourdieusan sense. However, the increasing involvement of Congolese women in the field of women's rights advocacy has opened up new paths of political action which can, in certain occasions, lead to transnational forms of engagement. Similarly, second generation Congolese activists are constructing a space of autonomous engagement, relying heavily on the Internet and especially on social media, some attempting to link up with wider social movements. The paper provides an understanding of the social and political construction of these different fields of diasporic engagement as well as their intersectional and dialogical relations.