head shot Silke

Silke Oldenburg

Research coordinator, Global Governance Centre
Senior Researcher, Anthropology
Spoken languages
German, English, French, Spanish, Swahili
Areas of expertise
  • Urban Anthropology
  • Armed conflicts
  • Infrastructure
Geographical Region of Expertise
  • DR Congo
  • Colombia
  • Venezuela
  • Eastern Africa



Silke Oldenburg is an Anthropologist interested in the intersections of the urban and the political, focusing particularly on the spatialization and materialization of power, urban environment, and sociality within cities of the Global South.

She is the academic coordinator and a senior researcher in the Sinergia project The Future of Humanitarian Design (2023-2027).

Before joining the Geneva Graduate Institute, Silke was a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Anthropology in Basel, Switzerland. Silke has held various research and teaching appointments at the Universities of Cartagena in Colombia, CU Boulder and Columbia University. She was a senior fellow at the Maria Sibylla Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa at the University of Ghana (2023) and a Landhaus Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich (2023). Silke holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Bayreuth and a MA in Anthropology and Eastern European History from FU Berlin.

Silke regularly consults for human rights organizations and her research has been featured in different media outlets.


Areas of expertise

  • Political/ Urban/ Environmental Anthropology

  • Everyday Life in Contexts of Armed Conflict

  • Infrastructure and Urban Natures

  • Youth, Gender and Generation





2016 À Goma on sait jamais : Jugend im ganz normalen Ausnahmezustand in Goma, DR Kongo

2008 Wir sind doch alle unsichtbar. Jugendliche Binnenvertriebene in KolumbienOsnabrück: edition terre des hommes.


Articles and book chapters (selection)

2023 Estoy llenita de agua: Caring for Infrastructural Belonging in Cartagena. Roadsides 9: 8-16 (with Maria Buelvas)

2023 From ’Goma veut de l’eau’ to ’Kabila doit partir’: Perspectives on Youth, Urban Protest and Armed Conflict in Goma, Eastern DR Congo. in Kniknie, S. and Büscher, K. (eds.) Rebellious Riots. Entangled Geographies of Contention in Africa. Leiden, Boston: Brill (Africa-Europe Group for Interdisciplinary Studies), pp. 180–208 (with Wassy Kambale).

2022 Futuros Ambientales de los Barrios Populares de Cartagena: Perspectivas desde una Colaboracion Interdisciplinaria Colombia-Suiza. In: Ramirez Gröbli, M. del P. (ed.) ACIS 30 años. Diáspora científica colombiana en Suiza. Una experiencia pionera en el mundo. Binges, Frances: Editions Orbis Tertius, pp. 303–318 (with Jaime Hernandez Garcia & Greg Labrosse).

2021 Navigating the Archipelago City: Everyday Experiences and Socio-Political Imaginaries of Urban Floods in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. Cahiers des Amériques Latines, 97, 2021/2, p. 139-163 (with Laura Neville).

2020 Going Off-the-Record? On the Relationship between Media and the Formation of National Identity in Postgenocide Rwanda. In: Budka, P., & Bräuchler, B. (Eds.): Theorising Media and Conflict. New York & Oxford: Berghahn Books, 277-294.

2020 ‘Maisha ni Kuvumiliya’: Patrimonialism, Progress and the Ambiguities of Waiting in Goma, DR Congo. In: Critical African Studies, 12 (1): 37-51.

2019 Dead End? Young Motorcycle Taxi Drivers between Being Stuck, Bridging Potholes and Building a Future in Goma, Eastern Congo. In: Cadernos. Journal of African Studies, 37, 63-87.

2018 Agency, Social Space and Conflict-Urbanism in Eastern Congo. Journal of Eastern African Studies, 18 (2): 254-273.

2017 with Valerie Hänsch; Lena Kroeker: Uncertainty and Future. Perceptions on Time between the Immediate and the Imagined. In: Tsantsa, 22: 4-17.

2016 ‘I am an Intellectual’: War, Youth and Education in Goma, Eastern DR Congo. Special Issue AnthropoChildren: Images and Imaginations of the Future among Children and Youth in Africa. Open access:

2015 The Politics of Love and Intimacy in Goma, Eastern DR Congo. Perspectives on the Market of Intervention as Contact Zone. In: Journal of Intervention and State-Building, 9 (3): 316-333.