Les ex-mineurs à Lubumbashi (RD Congo) et la question de la nostalgie


Daniela Waldburger

In 2003, mineworkers of the Gécamines (former Union Minière du Haut-Katanga (UMHK)), a mining company in Lubumbashi (DR Congo), lost their job after a deal between the Congolese government and the World Bank to liberalise the mining sector.

This talk focuses on a research project among and with the Collectif des ex-agents de la Gécamines (“Départs Volontaires”), these ex-workers of the Union Minière du Haut-Katanga/Gécamines in Lubumbashi (DR Congo).



Exhibition Centre d‘Art Waza, Lubumbashi, July 2019
photo © Daniela Waldburger

Their (work)life is characterized by the experience of a severe economic decline that feeds an immense nostalgia. “C’était bien à l’époque!” is an often heard sentence and it serves as a starting point to talk about:

  • linguistic strategies to cope with the loss of income that radically changed ex-workers’ perceptions of life and 
  • their master narrative as a strategy of their fight for compensation after they lost their employment in 2003.

How did the project’s idea come about? Which research questions and methods accompanied the project? What can we learn from this research project? And why is this project important also regarding the relationship between Belgium and the DRC?


About the speaker

Daniela Waldburger is Senior Lecturer (Swahili, Linguistics) at the Department of African Studies at the University of Vienna. From 2017- 2020 she was also a post-doctoral researcher in a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund. Her current book project bases on the data from this project related research stays in Lubumbashi (DR Congo) and focuses on the nostalgia of the ex-mineworkers.

Her other research foci include sociolinguistics, discourse analysis and generally questions on language and power (mis)use, Swahili language and literatures, Swahili varieties and approaches of more including research methods.



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