Silke Oldenburg is a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Basel, Switzerland. Silke’s ethnographic research focuses primarily on intersections of the urban and the political, and specifically on the spatialisation and materialization of power, urban environment and sociality within cities.
Her current book project is entitled “Laughter in the City: On Urbanity, Practices of Humor and Infrastructures from a Comparative Perspective”. Based on longitudinal comparative fieldwork in DR Congo and Colombia, this study investigates the ways how urbanites deal with social, political and spatial change. Central questions are how social space, material infrastructure and urban sociality emerge, are negotiated and dealt with. This project is funded by the Swiss National Sciences Foundation where Silke is the coordinator of the interdisciplinary research project “Making the City: Agency, Urbanity and Urbanisation in Ordinary Cities”. She was a visiting researcher at the University of Colorado in Boulder, USA, and the Universidad de Cartagena in Colombia.
Her PhD thesis (University of Bayreuth, 2013) was devoted to “Youth, War and Everyday Life in Goma, DR Congo”. Based on extensive ethnographic research, Silke’s doctoral project illustrates what it means to be young and become adult in uncertain times. Her thesis was published by the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (Lit Verlag 2016) and was funded by Hans-Böckler-Stiftung, BIGSAS and Büro der Frauenbeauftragten der Universität Bayreuth.
Silke’s MA-thesis (FU Berlin, 2006) researched perils and prospects of internally displaced youths in a paramilitarized barrio popular in Soacha, Colombia. Entitled “Lebensverhältnisse und Zukunftsperspektiven von jugendlichen Binnenvertriebenen in Altos de Cazucá», this book was published with terre des hommes. This research was funded by DAAD and presented the Christiane-von-Rajewski-Award in 2007.
Focus in Teaching
An Ethnography of the Great Lakes Region
An Anthropology of Youth in Africa
Congo's 'Wild West'? Conflict and Culture in the Kivus
‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’: Colombia between Guerilla and Green Revolution.
Introductory Course: Kinship and Political Anthropology
Exchange and Encounter: The Andes from Colonial Times till Today.
Focus in Research
political anthropology, urban anthropology, youth studies, media and journalism, uncertainty and crisis, infrastructures and environment
Great Lakes Region (DR Congo, Rwanda) and the Andes (Colombia and Venezuela)
Colombia 2004 (3 months), 2015 (3 months), 2016 (6 months), 2017 (2 months), 2020 (2 months)
DR Congo 2008 (11 months), 2009 (3 months), 2013 (4months), 2016 (2 months), 2017 (2 months), 2018 (2months)
Rwanda 2013 (4 months)