The Spatial Dimensions of Risk in the Congolese-Rwandan Borderland




Prof. Dr. Martin Doevenspeck


Politische Geographie




10 / 2006 - 05 / 2010


Surrounded by Nyamulagira and Nyiragongo, two of the worlds most dangerous volcanoes, Lake Kivu that contains huge quantities of explosive gases and exposed to the impacts of prolonged civil war the Rwandan-Congolese borderland seem to be an ‘impossible site’. The aim of this project is to understand the various ways in which people understand risk in a context of a everyday presence of an exceptional variety of direct and indirect life-threatening hazards, to check the relevance of in the Northern academic debate prevailing notions of risk for these emic understandings and to link them to some spatial dimensions of peoples’ navigating of this context. It’s focus is on the objective accumulation of different types of dangers in a delimited material space and the ambiguous relationship between these tangible facts and the socially and spatially differentiated translations of dangers into risks as well as the spatial practices closely linked to theses processes of translation. Depending on emotions shaped by previous experiences and economically determined choices borderlanders perceive and thus spatially translate dangers differently.