Taking the city of Kinshasa as an example, this article proposes to examine the transformation in the modes of representation of the self. Against the backdrop of the social history of Kinshasa’s inhabitants, the author analyzes three principal modes of production of representations of the self and of the community: the visual (in particular, popular paintings), post-scriptural orality, and modern urban music. The author argues that the images of self thereby produced in these media circulate outside of scriptural narration. Since the latter has been so important for the affirmation of the self in the West, researchers have tended to focus on this particular mode of subjective affirmation. They subsequently conclude wrongly that there is no strong urge to represent individual identity in African societies. The author counters that representations of self are as intense as elsewhere but are simply not taking place where most university professors would like to find them.


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pp. 105-116
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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