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Liebe in Zeiten humanitärer Intervention. Sex, Geschlechterbeziehungen und humanitäre Intervention in Goma, DR Kongo

Silke Oldenburg

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Schlüsselwörter: Kongo, Jugend, Gender, humanitäre Intervention


Love in Times of Humanitarian Intervention – Sex, Gender Relations, and Humanitarian Intervention in Goma, DR Congo.


“In Goma there is no love – everything is about dollars” is a common  saying amongst young men in Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu in  the Democratic Republic of Congo. More than just referring to ‘love’, this  statement illustrates the complex terrain of moralities and materialities in  Goma and refers to dynamic gender relations in the context of protracted  violent conflict and humanitarian intervention. This article’s contribution  focuses on the under-researched interactions and social practices going on in the contact zone of peacekeeping missions and the local population.  This contact zone is conceptualised as a ‘market of intervention’ where sex becomes a commodity. The market of intervention influences economic opportunities, sociopolitical hierarchies, normative stereotypes, and the  urban infrastructure, as well as shapes local imaginations of ‘modernity’  being characterised by western goods and lifestyle. Zooming into the social practice of transactional sex, the author analyses how the market of  intervention might aggravate sexual exploitation, yet also opens up manifold opportunities and may enhance conceptions of the self at the same time. Young women engaged in transactional sex reflect on their obligations towards their family, strive for income, or try to fulfil desires. Men, too, identify the opportunities generated by the market of intervention, yet are often marginalised due to social, ethnic and gendered reasons. The unequal distribution of resources and asymmetric relations of exchange perpetuate patrimonial relations on the one hand, while on the other allow some actors (mostly educated young women) to perform their  dream of a ‘good life’ – at least to a certain extent. Without downplaying the prevalent images of rape and sexual abuse, the article sheds light on often neglected yet very present heterogeneous experiences and social practices of and dealing with longterm humanitarian intervention.

Keywords: Congo, youth, transactional sex, gender, humanitarian intervention


Bibliographie: Oldenburg, Silke: Liebe in Zeiten humanitärer Intervention. Sex, Geschlechterbeziehungen und humanitäre Intervention in Goma, DR Kongo, PERIPHERIE, 1-2014, S. 46-70.