Tropical Cowboys

Tropical Cowboys

Westerns, Violence, and Masculinity in Kinshasa
Gondola, Ch. Didier
Distribution: World
Publication date: 04/10/2016
Format: Paperback 21 b&w illus., 2 maps, 2 tables
ISBN: 978-0-253-02077-2
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During the 1950s and 60s in the Congo city of Kinshasa, there emerged young urban male gangs known as "Bills" or "Yankees." Modeling themselves on the images of the iconic American cowboy from Hollywood film, the "Bills" sought to negotiate lives lived under oppressive economic, social, and political conditions. They developed their own style, subculture, and slang and as Ch. Didier Gondola shows, engaged in a quest for manhood through bodybuilding, marijuana, violent sexual behavior, and other transgressive acts. Gondola argues that this street culture became a backdrop for Congo-Zaire’s emergence as an independent nation and continues to exert powerful influence on the country’s urban youth culture today.

Author Bio

Ch. Didier Gondola is Chair of the History Department and Professor of African History at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis. He is editor (with Peter J. Bloom and Charles Tshimanga) of Frenchness and the African Diaspora: Identity and Uprising in Contemporary France (IUP).


Aligns social banditry with popular cultural formations and subcultures. This has been a longstanding feature of Didier Gondola's scholarship that is of great interest.An innovative and original study that sheds light on masculinity, youth culture, performative violence, and the circuit of global imagery in the townships of Kinshasa.

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Table of Contents

Part I. Falling Men
1. "Big Men"
2. A Colonial Cronos
3. Missionary Interventions
Part II. Man Up!
4. Tropical Cowboys
5. Performing Masculinities
6. Protectors and Predators
Part III. Metamorphoses
7. Pere Buffalo
8. Avatars

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