Advanced search

An investigation of road infrastructure at the intersection of colonial policies and economic interest in the Bas-Congo region, 1929-1949

(2017)
Author
Organization
Abstract
Focussing on the evolution of the road network built in the Belgian Congo during the interwar period, the paper aims to fill a gap in the current historiography of planning in the Belgian colony as well as in Central Africa. Limiting themselves almost exclusively to fluvial, airline and, most importantly, the railway navigation, existing scholars tended to focus on urban planning issues, as railroads played a major role in linking emerging cities and thus helped structure the urbanisation of the colony. However, the road network in colonial Congo was more closely linked with the development of the countryside and the upcoming rural economy, a connection underresearched in current historiography on the spatiality of colonialism. It is remarkable that the most informative source on the topic of Congo’s road infrastructure remains a technical report written by engineer Egide-Jean Devroey, a prominent employee of the Ministry of Colonies(1939). Devroey makes a division between routes d’intérêt général and routes d’intérêt local, the former being a category of roads to be funded by the government, while the latter were to be build and maintained by the firm they benefitted. In reality however, these categories often blurred, and entrepreneurs wanting a road on the working terrain played on the feelings of economic gain and dissent between the different levels of colonial administration, in order to obtain financing for private roads of intérêt local. By investigating one such case through mapping the road network, discussing the different actors involved in its making and the opening up of a specific territory (including also missionary congregations for instance), this paper will provide a powerful lens through which we can gain a better understanding of the forces at play in the transformation brought about in the Congolese countryside.

Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Heindryckx, Laurence. 2017. “An Investigation of Road Infrastructure at the Intersection of Colonial Policies and Economic Interest in the Bas-Congo Region, 1929-1949.” In .
APA
Heindryckx, L. (2017). An investigation of road infrastructure at the intersection of colonial policies and economic interest in the Bas-Congo region, 1929-1949. Presented at the II International Conference African Urban Planning.
Vancouver
1.
Heindryckx L. An investigation of road infrastructure at the intersection of colonial policies and economic interest in the Bas-Congo region, 1929-1949. 2017.
MLA
Heindryckx, Laurence. “An Investigation of Road Infrastructure at the Intersection of Colonial Policies and Economic Interest in the Bas-Congo Region, 1929-1949.” 2017. Print.
@inproceedings{8573006,
  abstract     = {Focussing on the evolution of the road network built in the Belgian Congo during the interwar period, the paper aims to fill a gap in the current historiography of planning in the Belgian colony as well as in Central Africa. Limiting themselves almost exclusively to fluvial, airline and, most importantly, the railway navigation, existing scholars tended to focus on urban planning issues, as railroads played a major role in linking emerging cities and thus helped structure the urbanisation of the colony. However, the road network in colonial Congo was more closely linked with the development of the countryside and the upcoming rural economy, a connection underresearched in current historiography on the spatiality of colonialism. It is remarkable that the most informative source on the topic of Congo{\textquoteright}s road infrastructure remains a technical report written by engineer Egide-Jean Devroey, a prominent employee of the Ministry of Colonies(1939). Devroey makes a division between routes d{\textquoteright}int{\'e}r{\^e}t g{\'e}n{\'e}ral and routes d{\textquoteright}int{\'e}r{\^e}t local, the former being a category of roads to be funded by the government, while the latter were to be build and maintained by the firm they benefitted. In reality however, these categories often blurred, and entrepreneurs wanting a road on the working terrain played on the feelings of economic gain and dissent between the different levels of colonial administration, in order to obtain financing for private roads of int{\'e}r{\^e}t local. By investigating one such case through mapping the road network, discussing the different actors involved in its making and the opening up of a specific territory (including also missionary congregations for instance), this paper will provide a powerful lens through which we can gain a better understanding of the forces at play in the transformation brought about in the Congolese countryside. },
  author       = {Heindryckx, Laurence},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Lisbon},
  title        = {An investigation of road infrastructure at the intersection of colonial policies and economic interest in the Bas-Congo region, 1929-1949},
  year         = {2017},
}