My research deals with the relation between the languages Kikongo and Lingala and the way the opposition between them has been activated throughout the history of the Congolese capital (1950s-present day). Although president Mobutu (in power from 1965 until 1997) attempted to oppress regionalist movements, certain city-dwellers continue to use elements of a (ki)Kongo repertoire for emancipatory practices in current day Kinshasa, be it in an artistic, religious or political way. By (ki)Kongo repertoire, the cultural package of references to the Kongo kingdom and prophets like Kimpa Vita and Simon Kimbangu is meant, with Kikongo as its indexically marked language choice. By tracking the evolution of a (ki)Kongo legacy in the urban environment of Kinshasa - which is mainly Lingalaphone -, I try to answer the following research question: how has (ki)Kongo functioned as the contestation of hegemonies in Kinshasa's colonial and recent history (1950s-present day) and how is Kikongo language indexically used in this contestation? What these hegemonies look like changes throughout time but they include some common features: foreign or internal oppression (colonial or from another Congolese region), modernity, urbanity, Lingala and French, Christianity and capitalism.
Project completed with successful Ph.D. defence in November 2021.