Jente Althuis

Thesis title:

Mapping revolutionary ideology onto urban space as a means of strategic communications


The role of communications in conflict, revolutions, and counterinsurgency has over the past years received increased attention with the emergence of a strong focus on ‘strategic communications’ in not only the academic study of war, but also in practice and policy making of national governments and international organisations such as NATO. This ‘strategic communications’ is not confined to the verbal sphere, but also includes communication through physical acts and the way in which these are depicted in pictures and the written word. An essential aspect affecting the way in which audiences interpret these messages is the space in which they are sent and interpreted. Furthermore, as identified by David Kilcullen, conflicts are increasingly fought in urban areas, which has incited a shift in focus from the control of geography to the control of networks of people.Even though current trends of urbanization and the effects this has on conflict have become an important topic in the field of war studies, a study moving beyond communication in urban space to the communication of urban space in revolutions, derived from the idea that space can play an instrumental role itself, has not yet been performed. Hence, Jente’s research proposes a study of the mapping of revolutionary ideology onto urban space as a means of strategic communications. Focusing on one of the early cases of urban revolution, the anti-Apartheid struggle of the African National Congress (ANC) in South African urban areas, it aims to answer the following research question: How did the African National Congress employ the urban space of Soweto, Johannesburg as a means of communicating ideology and strategy to achieve their revolutionary goals?

First supervisor:

Neville Bolt


11 – Global Order, Violence & Security Practice