Article

From Autochthony to Violence? Discursive and Coercive Social Practices of the Mai-Mai in Fizi, Eastern DR Congo

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Abstract

This article explores the links between autochthony discourses and physical violence through a case study of a Mai-Mai group in the eastern DR Congo. While this group garners support by employing such discourses and related tropes of autodéfense (self-defense), there are clear limits to the capacity of these narratives to mobilize for and legitimize violent action. Furthermore, much of the violence committed by the Mai-Mai is not informed directly by notions of autochthony, but is rather geared toward the consolidation of power. This observation should act as a caution against the a priori coding of violence according to the ways it is discursively framed by its protagonists.

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... Despite their mostly good relations with neighbouring communities in South Kivu, during the pre-war era, the Congolese citizenship of the Banyamulenge, and other 'Tutsi' or 'Rwandan' people has constantly been brought into question, in local social media and by local politicians from neighbouring 'Bantu' communities (Huening, 2015). Maimai groups affiliated to Babembe, Bafuliro, Banyindu, and Bavira communities consider themselves the only 'autochthonous' Congolese, openly challenging the right of their neighbours, the Banyamulenge, to remain in the Congo (Geschiere and Jackson, 2006;Mathys, 2017;Sanders, 1969;Verweijen, 2015). Within nativist and also 'liberationist' Congolese political discourse, Banyamulenge are an enemy within, a sort of fifth column of Rwanda, whatever their actual affinities and alliances today. ...
... Since 2017, hostility between Rwanda and Burundi has increased, and the complexity of cross-cutting 'tribal' or 'race' alliances has intensified, becoming close to untraceable. Currently the Maimai's ideology is closely connected with the narrative of fighting 'foreign invaders', collapsing Rwanda with former local proxies, the Banyamulenge military, even though they are no longer allied (Verweijen, 2015). In this vein, Jackson (2007: 488) suggests that: ...
... Besides the Front National de Liberation (FNL) of the self-proclaimed General Nzabampema Aloys (Levine and Nagar, 2015;Nkurunziza and Anyadike, 2016). This armed group is linked to Burundi's 2015 electoral protests (Verweijen, 2015). Attacks on civilians intensified, in 2017 to 2018 in the region of Bijombo and later in 2019 around Minembwe. ...
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Recent warfare in Eastern DRC, especially since 2015, is marked by violence inspired by ‘race’ narratives. Identity politics around ‘race’ is used to legitimise ‘expressive’ or reprisal-oriented violence against ‘Hamitic’ or ‘Tutsi’ minorities. The case of the Banyamulenge of South Kivu is examined in this article. Following Autesserre, we show that one-dimensional narratives – in this case of ‘race’ – tend to over-simplify the dynamics of political violence. Anti-Hamitic racism is derived from colonial ideas around race hierarchies, and has resulted in systematic killings of Banyamulenge civilians in what resembles a ‘slow genocide’. Expressive violence has, in turn, produced a lack of concern for the plight of Banyamulenge civilians among the military, humanitarians, media, scholars and NGOs. Given armed alliances between local Maimai forces, Burundian and Rwandan opposition and the DRC army, such ‘race’ narratives cruelly legitimise violence against civilians from ‘Tutsi’ communities, associated by neighbouring communities with Rwanda. Resultant displacement, starvation and killing of Banyamulenge civilians in this context amount to an on-going, slow-moving genocide. As the COVID-19 crisis unrolls, the decolonisation of identity politics in Eastern DRC, and in South Kivu in particular still seems very remote.
... Many of the smaller armed groups continue to operate under the ÔMai-MaiÕ banner and are closely tied to particular ethno-regional identities. These groups employ similar mobilizing narratives as during the Congo Wars, drawing on notions of autochthony, ethnicity, self-defense and spirituality, including beliefs in the spirits of the ancestors, while also using discourses of anti-imperialism and government critique reminiscent of the Simba and Mulele rebellions (Hoffmann 2015;Verweijen 2015a). The multifaceted nature of Mai-Mai groupsÕ discourses facilitates their embedding in multi-scalar political-economic networks that encompass different categories of civilians, including local authorities, businesspeople, politicians, and state agents. ...
... They were supported by local Bembe elites who felt that losing autonomous military capacity would weaken their power position. In combination with inter-community animosities between the Babembe and a Rwandophone group living in Fizi (the Banyamulenge), these considerations pushed one of DuniaÕs commanders, a certain Williame Amuri Yakotumba, to desert and launch a new rebel movement in 2007 (Verweijen 2015a). In one of their first comprehensive declarations, the movement states that Ôthe Mai-Mai revolution starts in 1964 [É] and has as objective to revive the Lumumbist ideology (fight against injustice, dictatorship, defense of the fatherland, protection of the people and their resources)Õ (Mwenebatu 2008, 5). ...
... Discourses of autochthony and resistance against Ôresources plunder by foreign forcesÕ are widely shared in Fizi, and ensure a measure of popular and elite support for the Mai-Mai. But people also collaborate and comply with the Mai-Mai out of opportunism and fear (Verweijen 2015a). The group engages in intimidation, extortion, kidnapping opponents, revenge attacks and banditry-style revenue generation, such as ambushes. ...
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The expansion of industrial mining in the war-ridden eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has provoked resistance from those depending directly and indirectly on artisanal mining for their livelihood, and has been faced with violent actions from politico-military entrepreneurs. By analyzing the interplay between armed and social mobilization against industrial mining in the Fizi–Kabambare region, this paper sheds new light on the relations between industrial mining, resistance and militarization. It argues that the presence and practices of industrial mining companies reinforce the overall power position of politico-military entrepreneurs. This occurs both directly, by efforts to co-opt them, and indirectly, by fueling dynamics of conflict, insecurity and protection that crucially underpin these entrepreneurs’ dominance. At the same time, due to the eastern Congo’s convoluted political opportunity structure for contentious action, politico-military entrepreneurs enlarge the scope for social mobilization against industrial mining. They offer a potential counterweight to repressive authorities and provide collective action frames that inspire contentious politics. Yet they also harness popular resistance for personal or particularistic purposes, while extorting the very people they claim to defend. These complexities reflect the ambiguous nature and versatility of both armed and social mobilization in the eastern Congo, which transcend socially constructed boundaries like the rural/urban, state/non-state and military/civilian divides.
... Whereas they drew on interviews with soldiers of the Congolese army, I focus on teachers' perceptions. Inferring motives for violence from the interpretations of victims themselves carries fallacies (Verweijen, 2015a). I therefore explicitly refer to teachers' narratives and do not claim to unveil all reasons for violence. ...
... Most importantly for this paper, the lines between Mayi Mayi and state actors are blurred. A first significant process was the integration of some members of armed groups into the regular armed forces (Stearns & Anon., 2013;Verweijen, 2015a). On the other side of the coin, former regular soldiers at times turned into rebels, exemplified by Laurent Nkunda or the M23 movement. ...
... However, the case of the Bakata Katanga adds nuance to the notion of "locally rooted" (Verweijen, 2015a). Some people from Pweto and Mitwaba indeed joined the Mayi Mayi and new local leaders emerged, such as the frequently mentioned Petit Beau from Mitwaba. ...
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My qualitative research in South-Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo suggests that teachers link experienced violence to their role as state representatives. Three elements evoke the militia's distrust: literacy, cell phones, and mobility. Reportedly, militias assume that teachers use these elements to cooperate with the military. This article therefore understands these elements as symbols of stateness, and it demonstrates how a state with overall weak capacities can have significant meaning for teachers' everyday lives in the form of the state-image. Thereby, the article sheds a critical light on approaches that frame teacher (re)deployment in conflict-affected contexts around normalcy and resilience. As teachers cannot escape their affiliation to the state, they live in an unsettling proximity to people who turned against them and who might again do so. Since reasons of the conflict remain unaddressed, teachers become reluctant representatives of a state system in which they themselves are structurally neglected.
... Owing to civilians' and military personnel's shared living and socio-economic space, there are not two well-delineated Bcivilian^and Bmilitary^spheres. The same applies to the military sphere of armed groups, which are similarly closely embedded in civilian social networks (Verweijen 2015b(Verweijen , 2016. What further weakens the boundaries between Bthe military^and Bcivilians^is that these notions constitute superordinate (or umbrella) identity categories that are not always salient in everyday situations (Slim 2008). ...
... In the Kivus, these narratives tend to pit self-styled Bautochthonous^groups against BRwandophones^or speakers of Kinyarwanda (the language also spoken in neighboring Rwanda). The latter are framed as B(Rwandan) immigrants^and Bforeigners,^who are not Bauthentic Congolese^ (Verweijen 2015b). Autochthony and ethnicity also shape civilian-military interaction, in particular when the military associates civilians with armed groups from a similar ethnic background, or where patronage networks with an ethnic component dominate particular military units or structures (Verweijen 2015a(Verweijen , 2018. ...
... Thus, in areas predominantly inhabited by self-styled Bautochthones,^rumors harming the FARDC are sooner spread when the locally deployed unit is dominated by Rwandophones, with the blame specifically ascribed to that group. One area where this mechanism was found to be at work was the Ngandja sector of Fizi (in South Kivu), where the Mai-Mai group of Yakotumba has a strong influence (Verweijen 2015b). When arriving in Misisi, a town in Ngandja close to an artisanal gold mining site, in January 2010, I was lodged in a guesthouse owned by civil society organizations that was located on the outskirts of town, next to a military camp. ...
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Although two decades of militarization have normalized the presence of armed forces in eastern DR Congo, civilians continue to resist their power and practices, engaging in heterogeneous repertoires of contentious action. Focusing on resistance against the national army, this article analyzes the forms and effects of these contentious repertoires as well as the factors that shape them. The latter include the intimate and multi-faceted entanglement of civilian and military lives and the high fluidity of dynamics of conflict, insecurity and protection. These factors foster an orientation towards both the socially immediate and the socially imagined. Accordingly, it is appropriate to analyze civilian resistance in eastern DR Congo through the lens of “social navigation,” a term used to conceptualize social practice in volatile settings. Yet, social navigation’s focus on fluidity and flexibility does not allow for fully comprehending civilians’ contentious practices vis-à-vis the military. Following the theory of structuration, these practices are also shaped by relatively durable social structures, such as economic scarcity and deeply rooted socio-political imaginaries and modes of action relating to “stateness,” patronage, and social belonging. The imprint of these structures on social practice renders civilian resistance fleeting, incoherent, and personalized, thereby reducing its potential to undermine the military’s dominance. These observations indicate that even in highly volatile settings, the analysis of durable social structures remains crucial to understanding social practice, including resistance, and its effects on the social order. The analytical approach of social navigation must therefore be complemented by the theory of structuration.
... Many of the smaller armed groups continue to operate under the 'Mai-Mai' banner and are closely tied to particular ethnoregional identities. These groups employ similar mobilizing narratives as during the Congo Wars, drawing on notions of autochthony, ethnicity, self-defense and spirituality, including beliefs in the spirits of the ancestors, while also using discourses of anti-imperialism and government critique reminiscent of the Simba and Mulele rebellions (Hoffmann 2015;Verweijen 2015a). The multifaceted nature of Mai-Mai groups' discourses facilitates their embedding in multi-scalar political -economic networks that encompass different categories of civilians, including local authorities, businesspeople, politicians and state agents. ...
... They were supported by local Bembe elites who felt that losing autonomous military capacity would weaken their power position. In combination with inter-community animosities between the Babembe and a Rwandophone group living in Fizi (the Banyamulenge), these considerations pushed one of Dunia's commanders, a certain Williame Amuri Yakotumba, to desert and launch a new rebel movement in 2007 (Verweijen 2015a). In one of their first comprehensive declarations, the movement states that 'the Mai-Mai revolution starts in 1964 [ . . . ...
... Discourses of autochthony and resistance against 'resources plunder by foreign forces' are widely shared in Fizi, and ensure a measure of popular and elite support for the Mai-Mai. But people also collaborate and comply with the Mai-Mai out of opportunism and fear (Verweijen 2015a). The group engages in intimidation, extortion, kidnapping opponents, revenge attacks and banditry-style revenue generation, such as ambushes. ...
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The expansion of industrial mining in the war-ridden eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has provoked resistance from those depending directly and indirectly on artisanal mining for their livelihood, and has been faced with violent actions from politico-military entrepreneurs. By analyzing the interplay between armed and social mobilization against industrial mining in the Fizi–Kabambare region, this paper sheds new light on the relations between industrial mining, resistance and militarization. It argues that the presence and practices of industrial mining companies reinforce the overall power position of politico-military entrepreneurs. This occurs both directly, by efforts to co-opt them, and indirectly, by fueling dynamics of conflict, insecurity and protection that crucially underpin these entrepreneurs’ dominance. At the same time, due to the eastern Congo’s convoluted political opportunity structure for contentious action, politico-military entrepreneurs enlarge the scope for social mobilization against industrial mining. They offer a potential counterweight to repressive authorities and provide collective action frames that inspire contentious politics. Yet they also harness popular resistance for personal or particularistic purposes, while extorting the very people they claim to defend. These complexities reflect the ambiguous nature and versatility of both armed and social mobilization in the eastern Congo, which transcend socially constructed boundaries like the rural/urban, state/non-state and military/civilian divides.
... Some of these studies have also drawn attention to the importance of discourses of autochthony, which frame (semi)nomadic pastoralists as 'strangers' or 'outsiders', while identifying farmers as 'natives/indigenous' or 'sons/daughters of the soil' (Tonah 2003;Pelican 2009). Similar to discourses of ethnicity (Brubaker & Laitin 1998), the role of notions of autochthony in sparking violence, however, is by no means straightforward, and tends to be assumed rather than proven (Verweijen 2015a). ...
... However, not all farmers support the Mai-Mai. The attitudes of the population towards these groups are heterogeneous, ambiguous, and fluctuating (Verweijen 2015a), and the same applies to their engagement in cattle-looting. The spoils of large-scale cattle-looting are generally not shared with the ordinary farmer, who also tends to heavily suffer from the resulting tensions and insecurity. ...
... This primarily concerns Mai-Mai groups and their political supporters, including local authorities and politicians, who play an important role in sustaining these groups. By portraying the army as 'dominated by' and 'biased towards' Rwandophones, these violent entrepreneurs provide a raison d'être for Mai-Mai groups, allowing them to frame their (violent) activities as 'legitimate autodéfense' against the Banyamulenge's putative plan to forcibly occupy their lands (Verweijen 2015a). That such frames find 'resonance' among broad layers of the population is a result of not only of a long history of inter-community tensions, but also of negative experiences with Rwandophone troops. ...
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This paper analyses the role of cattle in the entwined dynamics of conflict and violence in the Fizi and Itombwe region of South Kivu province, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. On the one hand, agropastoral conflict intensifies armed mobilisation, allowing armed groups to draw upon particular conflict narratives that generate popular and elite support. It also creates incentives for armed actors to engage in cattle-looting, or the defence against it, for both symbolic and material reasons. On the other hand, the presence of armed forces and the use of violence profoundly shape agropastoral conflicts. Importantly, they change the perceived stakes of these conflicts, and hamper their resolution. By showing that the relations between cattle-related conflict and armed activity are indirect, complex and mutual, the paper refines both theories on agropastoral conflict and those highlighting the role of local conflicts in fuelling violence in the eastern Congo.
... The Mai Mai often exploit and manipulate these fears by exacerbating difference between local and foreign communities. In particular, they frame their objectives and use narratives of autochthony (born from the soil) to inflame these fears (Verweijen 2015). ...
... Reminding armed groups about their main objective, which is supposedly to protect the population, is an important strategy employed to prevent or dissuade violent behaviour. As Verweijen (2015) explains, the local population needs to believe in the Mai Mai discourse for it to be effective. The Mai Mai will occasionally give in to civilian requests to maintain their reputation among the civilian population. ...
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... One participant recalled not even telling his parents 81 Author interview, November 2017, Bukavu. 82 Brabant, 2016, 80-85;Verweijen, 2015. Journal of African Military History (2022) 1-35 about leaving. ...
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... Mai-Mai groups mobilised in North Kivu in the 1980s, and then proliferated during the first and second Congo wars, and again during the CNDP and M23 wars. Mai-Mai groups draw on notions of belonging to legitimise their violent practices (Verweijen 2015): in particular, discourses of autochthony, which refers to the supposed natural belonging of autochthones to the 'soil', in contrast to foreigners (Hoffmann 2021;Jackson 2006). Mai-Mai groups are rooted in specific imagined 'ethnic' communities and claim to defend those 'born from the soil' from foreign Rwandan invaders who threaten their power, land, livelihoods, and survival (Hoffman and Verweijen 2019). ...
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... This superposition was largely ahistorical, ignoring a complex history of precolonial population movements, and lumping together groups with diverse historical trajectories into single categories. Yet, precisely because of its simplicity and its strong emotional appeal, autochthony discourse proved a highly powerful political weapon that continues to be deployed today (Verweijen 2015). ...
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This article argues that on the borderland between eastern DRC and Rwanda, the past and its representations have been constantly manipulated. The cataclysmic events in both Rwanda and Congo since the 1990s have widened the gap between partial and politicized historical discourse and careful historical analysis. The failure to pay attention to the multiple layers in the production of historical narratives risks reproducing a politicized social present that ‘naturalizes’ differences and antagonisms between different groups by giving them more time-depth. This is a danger both for insiders and outsiders looking in. The answer is to focus on the historical trajectories that shape historical narratives, and to ‘bring history back in’.
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De term “Mai Mai” wordt gebruikt als etiket voor een bonte verzameling van kleinschalige, vaak langs etnische lijnen gevormde gewapende groepen in oost Congo. Doorgaans roept de naam associaties op met hekserij, barbarij en irrationaliteit. Mai Mai groepen staan immers bekend om het gebruik van amuletten, tatoeages en spirituele rituelen met water die hen immuun zouden maken tegen kogels. Zulke simplistische voorstellingen vertroebelen ons begrip van Mai Mai milities. Want als de Mai Mai inderdaad zo’n beestachtig en bloeddorstig zooitje zijn, hoe verklaren we dan dat deze groepen op grote schaal in hedendaags oost Congo voorkomen? Hoe komt het dan dat delen van de bevolking toch enige sympathie voor hen hebben? Deze bijdrage poogt Mai Mai milities te demystificeren door middel van een historische en sociologische benadering. Ze legt uit wat Mai Mai groepen eigenlijk precies zijn en geeft een overzicht van hun historische wortels en ontwikkeling. Ook verklaart zij waarom er van de dag nog steeds Mai Mai milities actief zijn. Daar blijkt geen eenduidig antwoord op te zijn, gezien een veelvoud aan historische, sociale en economische factoren een rol spelen.
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More than ten years after the official conclusion of the peace process, more armed groups are operating in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo than during the two Congo Wars (1996–1997, 1998–2003), their numbers showing a steady increase over the past few years. However, the nature of armed mobilization is changing. Currently emerging groups (which exist alongside longer-standing insurgencies) are no longer large-scale, foreign-supported rebel movements or broad coalitions of rural-based nationalist self-defense groups, even if their commanders often started their military career in these predecessor armed movements. Rather, they represent a multitude of locally rooted and small-scale armed groups, some of which count no more than ten to twenty fighters. The strong local rootedness of these smaller- scale armed groups, and the ongoing conflicts and competition between the civilian networks of which they are a part, have created both the incentives and the possibilities for local authorities and other local elites to draw upon armed actors to reinforce their power position. Consequently, as we argue in this chapter, militarized politics has become accessible to a broadening range of actors. Hence, it has become “democratized” in the sense of drawing in more, but lower-level politico-military entrepreneurs, reflecting how violence as a strategy has become more accessible.
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Can the political science literature on sons-of-the-soil (SoS) conflict and civil war explain patterns of ethnic conflict over land in sub-Saharan Africa? Sons-of-the-soil terminology, developed with reference to conflicts in South Asia, has been used to describe some of Africa’s most violent or enduring conflicts, including those in eastern DRC, northern Uganda, the Casamance Region of Senegal, and southwestern Côte d'Ivoire. Is Africa becoming more like South Asia, where land scarcity has often fueled conflicts between indigenous land owners and in-migrants? This paper argues that political science theories that focus on rural migration and land scarcity alone to explain outbreaks of SoS conflict in Asia fall short in Africa because they are underdetermining. The paper proposes a model of structure and variation in land tenure institutions in sub-Saharan Africa, and argues that these factors are critical in explaining the presence of absence of SoS conflict over land. This conceptualization of the problem highlights the strong role of the state in structuring relations of land use and access, and suggests that the character of local state-backed land institutions goes far in accounting for the presence or absence, scale, location, and triggering of large-scale SoS land conflict in zones of smallholder agriculture. A meta-study of 24 subnational cases of land conflict (1990–2014), drawn from secondary and primary sources and field observations, generates case-based support for the argument. The study suggests that omission of land-tenure institution variables enfeebles earlier political science theory, and may inadvertently lead policy makers and practitioners to the erroneous conclusion that in rural Africa, primordial groups compete for land in an anarchic state of nature.
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This article analyses the disconcerting phenomenon of 'popular in/justice', or killings of citizens enacted by other citizens 'in the name of justice'. It studies these practices in the Fizi/Uvira region in the conflict-ridden eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where they target either suspected criminals or presumed sorcerers. The article locates the causes for this phenomenon in certain transformations of socio-political space, notably the unsettling of customary and politico-administrative authority, dysfunctional state-led justice and security services, and the militarisation of local governance. These developments have compounded dispute processing and handling the occult, leading these processes to often turn violent. They also incentivise and enable politically and socio-economically marginalised yet demographically numerous groups to assert socio-political agency and engage in order-making. The article concludes by arguing that popular in/justice should be seen as an expression of such aspirations to exercise efficacious socio-political agency, thereby constituting a perverse form of democratisation.
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The closely intertwined notions of territory, identity, and authority are at the heart of conflict dynamics in the eastern DR Congo. Focusing on the territorial aspirations of the Banyamulenge community in South Kivu, this article looks at the ways in which the nexus of territory, identity, and authority shapes and is shaped by armed mobilisation. Excluded from a customary chiefdom in the colonial era, the Banyamulenge, a community framed as ‘migrants’, have been striving for a territory of their own for decades. These aspirations have fed into armed activity by both Banyamulenge and Mai-Mai groups linked to opposing communities, providing deeply resonating mobilising narratives that are employed to justify violent action. Yet, as this article demonstrates, the links between armed mobilisation and the nexus of territory, identity, and authority are both contingent and reciprocal, as violent conflict also impacts the meanings and boundaries of identities, authority structures and territory.
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Drawing on extensive ethnographic field research, this dissertation explores the interaction between the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) and civilians in the eastern DR Congo’s conflict-ridden Kivu provinces. It uncovers the multidimensionality, reciprocity and complexities of this interaction, which arise from and give rise to its fundamentally ambiguous character. This ambiguity is both an outcome and an engine of processes of militarization, which entail structural transformations that generate a dominant position for armed actors and lead to the normalization of their involvement in non-military spheres of social life. Militarization has profoundly blurred the social roles and forms of identification surrounding armed actors in the Kivus, causing the boundaries between categories like military/civilian, coercion/persuasion, victim/perpetrator, public authority/private protector, licit/illicit to be porous and constantly shifting. The study concludes that the continuing dominance of the FARDC in the Kivus is the cumulative result of both civilians’ and the military’s everyday practices, which reproduce the militarized structures of domination, legitimation and signification that underpin the FARDC’s position of power. An important engine of this reproduction are the dynamics of conflict, insecurity and protection both within the military and within the Kivus’ social order as a whole. These dynamics lead to a short-term focus that causes civilians and soldiers to engage in practices that sustain the military’s dominance in the long term. Another important element in the reproduction of militarization is the routinization of certain forms of civilian-military interaction. As routine actions draw upon ‘practical consciousness’, routinization hampers the development of awareness among civilians of the effects of their individual practices on the social order as a whole. This shows that militarization is a process that is driven by practices that make sense to individual social agents, but that have outcomes that are disadvantageous at the collective level.
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The final report of the Usalama Project presents the conclusions of 18-month field research on the national army and armed groups in the eastern DRC in three parts: an analysis of armed mobilization, focusing on the region of North and South Kivu; an examination of the FARDC; and a critical review of past and current efforts in the field of demobilization and army reform. Written by Jason Stearns, Judith Verweijen and Maria Eriksson Baaz, the report finds that in the DRC’s current political order, the mobilization of armed groups and hence violence is an effective strategy to obtain power and control resources. Troubled army policies only contribute to armed mobilization. By repeatedly integrating armed groups into the FARDC, the government has not only provided incentives for further insurrection, it has effectively sanctioned impunity. Untangling this Gordian knot will require a comprehensive political and military strategy, aligning local, national, and international initia­tives.
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In early 2012, Congolese army deserters formed the M23 rebel movement. This article analyses the insurgency and other armed group activity in the eastern DRC in the light of the politics of rebel-military integration. It argues that military integration processes have fuelled militarization in three main ways. First, by creating incentive structures promoting army desertion and insurgent violence; second, by fuelling inter- and intra-community conflicts; and third, by the further unmaking of an already unmade army. We argue that this is not merely the product of a ‘lack of political will’ on behalf of the DRC government, but must be understood in the light of the intricacies of Big Man politics and Kinshasa's weak grip over both the fragmented political-military landscape in the east and its own coercive arm. Demonstrating the link between military integration and militarization, the article concludes that these problems arise from the context and implementation of integration, rather than from the principle of military power sharing itself. It thus highlights the crucial agency of political-military entrepreneurs, as shaped by national-level policies, in the production of ‘local violence’.
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Based on extensive field research in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo), this article elucidates the logics, processes and readings surrounding certain ‘extra-military’ practices enacted by the Congolese army, namely the processing of various types of disputes between civilians. Exceeding the boundaries of the domain of ‘public security’, such activities are commonly categorised as ‘corruption’. Yet such labelling, founded on a supposed clear-cut public–private divide, obscures the underlying processes and logics, in particular the fact that these practices are located on a blurred public–private spectrum and result from both civilian demand and military imposition. Furthermore, popular readings of military involvement in civilian disputes are highly ambiguous, simultaneously representing it as ‘abnormal’ and ‘harmful’, and normalising it as ‘making sense’ – reflecting the militarised institutional environment and the weakness of civilian authorities in the eastern DR Congo. Strengthening these authorities will be vital for reducing this practice, which has an enkindling effect on the dynamics of conflict and violence.
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The use in genocidal propaganda of a modified ‘Hamitic Hypothesis' (the assertion that African ‘civilisation' was due to racially distinct Caucasoid invaders from the north/north-east of Africa) has become a key feature of commentary on the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In order to historicise the Hypothesis, the article first traces the transformation by European anthropology of the ‘Hamite' in to a racial object and how the extraneous provenance of ‘the Tutsi' was articulated in colonial Rwanda. The article then critically assesses the centrality of the Hypothesis in constructing the Tutsi population as a target of genocide. Finally, the article explores both the inadvertent and explicit ways in which contemporary commentary reiterates aspects of the ‘Hamitic assemblage'.
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This paper examines the predicament of the postcolonial nation-state through the prism of environmental catastrophe. When are plant 'invaders' likely to become an urgent political issue? And, when they do, what might they reveal of the shifting relations among citizenship, community, and national sovereignty under neo-liberal conditions? Pursuing these questions in the 'new' South Africa, we posit three key features of postcolonial polities in the era of global capitalism: the reconfiguration of the subject-citizen, the crisis of sovereign borders, and the depoliticisation of politics. Under such conditions, we argue, aliens – both plants and people – come to embody core contradictions of boundedness and belonging. And alien-nature provides a language for voicing new forms of discrimination within a culture of 'post-racism' and civil rights.
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This paper attempts to further theoretical and empirical understanding of adherent and constituent mobilization by proposing and analyzing frame alignment as a conceptual bridge linking social psychological and resource mobilization views on movement participation. Extension of Goffman's (1974) frame analytic perspective provides the conceptual/theoretical framework; field research on two religious movements, the peace movement, and several neighborhood movements provide the primary empirical base. Four frame alignment processes are identified and elaborated: frame bridging, frame amplification, frame extension, and frame transformation. The basic underlying premise is that frame alignment, of one variety or another, is a necessary condition for participation, whatever its nature or intensity, and that it is typically an interactional and ongoing accomplishment. The paper concludes with an elaboration of several sets of theoretical and research implications.
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Current usages of the terms patrimonial and neopatrimonial in the context of Africa are conceptually problematical and amount to a serious misreading of Weber. His use of the term patrimonial delineated a legitimate type of authority, not a type of regime, and included notions of reciprocity and voluntary compliance between rulers and the ruled. Those reciprocities enabled subjects to check the actions of rulers, which most analyses of (neo)patrimonialism overlook. We apply these insights to a case study of Botswana and suggest that scholars reconsider the application of Weber’s concepts to African states.
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The recent proliferation of scholarship on collective action frames and framing processes in relation to social movements indicates that framing processes have come to be regarded, alongside resource mobilization and political opportunity processes, as a central dynamic in understanding the character and course of social movements. This review examines the analytic utility of the framing literature for understanding social movement dynamics. We first review how collective action frames have been conceptualized, including their characteristic and variable features. We then examine the literature related to framing dynamics and processes. Next we review the literature regarding various contextual factors that constrain and facilitate framing processes. We conclude with an elaboration of the consequences of framing processes for other movement processes and outcomes. We seek throughout to provide clarification of the linkages between framing concepts/processes and other conceptual and theoretical formulations relevant to social movements, such as schemas and ideology.
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Le 1 octobre 1994, un Hutu, le ministre de la Justice du gouvernement rwandais dominé par le FPR, a souhaité qu’une messe soit célébrée pour commémorer le génocide qui a eu lieu six mois auparavant. Le gouvernement a ignoré sa suggestion pour plutôt célébrer l’accession du FPR au pouvoir. Une initiative hutu pour commémorer l’extermination, dont les victimes étaient en majorité des Tutsi a été ignorée par un gouvernement contrôlé par des Tutsi. Du point de vue des relations inter ethniques, il se pose alors une importante question: était-ce le signe d’assouplissement des frontières entre les ethnies; un Hutu prenant l’initiative de commémorer l’extermination dont surtout les Tutsi ont été victimes? S’agit-il, au contraire, d’un renforcement des frontières ethniques, puisque un gouvernement dominé par des Tutsi a rejeté la proposition d’un Hutu? Cet article explore les ambiguïtés de l’ethnicité lors du génocide en situant les faits dans le contexte des événements qui l’ont précédé — le contexte qui a lui même mis en place les cadres ayant servi à définir l’ethnicité. C’est un lieu commun de dire que sur le plan abstrait l’ethnicité est définie dans le contexte. Le génocide, présenté par les médias comme “conflit ethnique” ou “guerre tribale,” était le cas classique d’une telle élaboration contextuelle de l’ethnicité. L’article analyse les facteurs instrumentaux de ce processus.
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This interdisciplinary collection addresses the position of minorities in democratic societies, with a particular focus on minority rights and recognition. For the first time, it brings together leading international authorities on ethnicity, nationalism and minority rights from both social and political theory, with the specific aim of fostering further debate between the disciplines. In their introduction, the editors explore the ways in which politics and sociology can complement each other in unravelling the many contradictory aspects of complex phenomena. Topics addressed include the constructed nature of ethnicity, its relation to class and to 'new racism', different forms of nationalism, self determination and indigenous politics, the politics of recognition versus the politics of redistribution, and the re-emergence of cosmopolitanism. This book is essential reading for all those involved in the study of ethnicity, nationalism and minority rights.
Article
This book examines a decade-long period of instability, violence and state decay in Central Africa from 1996, when the war started, to 2006, when elections formally ended the political transition in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A unique combination of circumstances explain the unravelling of the conflicts: the collapsed Zairian/Congolese state; the continuation of the Rwandan civil war across borders; the shifting alliances in the region; the politics of identity in Rwanda, Burundi and eastern DRC; the ineptitude of the international community; and the emergence of privatized and criminalized public spaces and economies, linked to the global economy, but largely disconnected from the state – on whose territory the ‘entrepreneurs of insecurity’ function. As a complement to the existing literature, this book seeks to provide an in-depth analysis of concurrent developments in Zaire/DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda in African and international contexts. By adopting a non-chronological approach, it attempts to show the dynamics of the interrelationships between these realms and offers a toolkit for understanding the past and future of Central Africa.
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For those of us old enough to remember what in the 1960s was known as ‘the Congo crisis’ ‐ soon to become the ‘endless crisis'‐ the tragic singularity of the present conjuncture is perhaps less apparent than some of the contributions to this special issue on the Congo might suggest. No one who lived through the agonies of the Congo's improvised leap into independence ‐ followed by the swift collapse of the successor state and the break‐up of the country into warring fragments ‐ can fail to note the analogy with the dismemberment of the Mobutist state in the wake of the 1998 civil war. Then as now the former Belgian colony was faced with a crisis of statelessness of huge proportions. The challenges confronting the international community today are in a sense remarkably similar to what they were in the early 1960s. How to reconstruct a broken‐backed polity, how to rebuild an army reduced to a rabble by the emergence of armed factions, how to revitalise basic human services, ensure a minimum of security and economic self‐sustenance; in short, how to restore the legitimacy, territorial integrity and internal sovereignty of the state, such are the daunting challenges facing the international community. This is not meant to suggest that history repeats itself, only that historical perspectives can offer important clues to an understanding of the present.
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Historical studies of Kivu are still in their very infancy. Recent work has been carried out in Bufulero, Bushi, Buhavu, and Bunande, but lacking the results of these studies, historians working from published materials have very few sources at their disposal. Existing sources include works by Colle, Moeller, Willame, and Cuypers, with the latter two based primarily on the former, at least in their historical dimensions. Because the sources are so few and are essentially similar, little critical attention has been given them; by constant citation and repetition they have become hallowed as truth and used as a basis for teaching and university theses. By this process such essentially colonial interpretations have become entrenched in the historical ontology of the region. This paper proposes to review some of the written sources in light of current research in the region, by first presenting certain themes which appear to have guided earlier historical inquiry and then discussing the works of these four influential authors in light of these themes. The first attempts to record historical traditions in the Kivu area were influenced by earlier studies of Rwanda which emphasized the centralized and hierarchical nature of the Rwandan state. Many of the early missionaries and Zairean priests in Kivu, men to whom contemporary researchers owe much for their accumulated sources, had close contacts with the seminaries and published work in Rwanda. In most historical works, Rwanda was seen as the end development for other states in the region, and prominence was given to those historical factors which were assumed to have had a common impact throughout the area.
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This article explores the links between globalization and ethnic violence in comparative perspective. By looking at ethnographic material from Central Africa, Europe, India and China, the paper suggests that bodily violence between social intimates may be viewed as a form of vivisection, and as an effort to resolve unacceptable levels of uncertainty through bodily deconstruction. This approach may cast light on the surplus of rage displayed in many recent episodes of inter-group violence. At the same time, the study suggests that the conditions for such extreme and intimate violence may partly lie in the deformation of national and local spaces of everyday life by the physical and moral pressures of globalization.
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This article explores a particular pattern of wartime violence, the relative absence of sexual violence on the part of many armed groups. This neglected fact has important policy implications: If some groups do not engage in sexual violence, then rape is not inevitable in war as is sometimes claimed, and there are stronger grounds for holding responsible those groups that do engage in sexual violence. After developing a theoretical framework for understanding the observed variation in wartime sexual violence, the article analyzes the puzzling absence of sexual violence on the part of the secessionist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam of Sri Lanka.
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By analytically decoupling war and violence, this book explores the causes and dynamics of violence in civil war. Against the prevailing view that such violence is an instance of impenetrable madness, the book demonstrates that there is logic to it and that it has much less to do with collective emotions, ideologies, and cultures than currently believed. Kalyvas specifies a novel theory of selective violence: it is jointly produced by political actors seeking information and individual civilians trying to avoid the worst but also grabbing what opportunities their predicament affords them. Violence, he finds, is never a simple reflection of the optimal strategy of its users; its profoundly interactive character defeats simple maximization logics while producing surprising outcomes, such as relative nonviolence in the 'frontlines' of civil war.
Article
The objectives of this exercise are threefold. First, through a case‐study of the Banyamulenge ethnogenesis, I demonstrate that this ethnicity was never constructed in a vacuum, but in a ‘pre‐imagined’ field. The ‘creation’ of a Banyamulenge identity illustrates perfectly that ethnicities are ongoing processes of continuous change. Ethnicities are dynamic processes that result from the confrontation of a community with its socio‐economic and political environment. Contrary to what local political and social leaders like to believe about their followings, the existence of a Banyamulenge identity is not the result of pure invention. I illustrate how historical events gave meaning to the content of this identity. Second, a close look will be taken at the different internal dynamics within this community to reach a better understanding of the real content of this ethnogenesis. While the Banyamulenge in Uvira were undoubtedly subject to exclusion, widespread ethnic resentment and violence, their marginalised position is also due to a lack of coherent leadership and internal division. An inquiry into the reasons why the Banyamulenge community, even today, still lacks any coherent leadership that is capable of improving the position of their community is crucial. Finally, as recent local history in Uvira suggests, I show that political exclusion tends to be the key to conflicting identity formation. In the case of the Banyamulenge, it seems that their claims to political participation not only had the effect of hardening the boundaries between different identity groups, but also had facilitated the shift to massive violence as an enticing strategy of control and resistance. This work is mainly the result of extensive fieldwork in and around Uvira and Bukavu, complemented by what was learned from the few printed sources that exist.
Article
Over the past four years the Ivoirian crisis has seen as its central dynamic the mobilization of the categories of autochthony and territorialized belonging in an ultranationalist discourse vehicled by the party in power. More than just a struggle to the death for state power, the conflict involves the redefinition of the content of citizenship and the conditions of sovereignty. The explosion of violence and counterviolence provoked and legitimated by the mobilization of these categories does not necessarily signify either the triumph of those monolithic identities “engineered” during the colonial occupation, nor the disintegration of the nation-state in the context of globalization. The Ivoirian case shows the continued vitality of the nation-state: not only as the principal space in terms of which discourses of authochtony are constructed, but also in terms of the techniques and categories that the political practice of autochthony puts into play. While in some senses the Ivoirian conflict appears to be a war without borders—in particular with the “spillover” of the Liberian war in the west during 2003—it is above all a war about borders, crystallizing in liminal spaces and social categories and on emerging practices and ways of life.
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The recent upsurge of "autochthony" and similar notions of belonging is certainly not special to Africa. All over the world, processes of intensifying globalization seem to go together with fierce struggles over belonging and exclusion of "strangers." A central question in the contributions to this special issue concerns the apparent "naturalness" of autochthony in highly different settings. How can similar slogans seem so self-evident and hence have such mobilizing force under very different circumstances? Another recurrent theme is the somewhat surprising "nervousness" of discourses on autochthony. They seem to promise a basic security of being rooted in the soil as a primal form of belonging. Yet in practice, belonging turns out to be always relative: there is always the danger of being unmasked as "not really" belonging, or even of being a "fake" autochthon. A comparative perspective on autochthony—as a particular pregnant form of entrenchment—may help to unravel the paradoxes of the preoccupation with belonging in a globalizing world.
Article
The recent wars in the DR Congo have led to a marked upsurge in both elite and popular discourse and violence around belonging and exclusion, expressed through the vernacular of “autochthony.” Dangerously flexible in its politics, nervous and paranoid in its language, unmoored from geographic or ethno-cultural specificity, borrowing energy both from present conflicts and deep-seated mythologies of the past, the idea of autochthony has permitted comparatively localized instances of violence in the DRC to inscribe themselves upward into regional, and even continental logics, with dangerous implications for the future. This article analyzes how the “local”/“stranger” duality of autochthony/allochthony expresses itself in the DRC through rumors, political tracts, and speeches and how it draws energy from imprecise overlaps with other powerful, preexisting identity polarities at particular scales of identity and difference: local, provincial, national, regional. Across each, autochthony operates as a loose qualifier, a binary operator: autochthony is adjectival, relational rather than absolute, policing a distinction between in and out, and yet not indicating, in itself, which in/ou t distinction is intended. Thus many speak of “Sons of the Soil,” but of which soil, precisely? The slipperiness between different scales of meaning permits the speaker to leave open multiple interpretations. This indefiniteness is a paradoxical source of the discourse's strength and weakness, suppleness and nervousness, its declarative mood and attendant paranoia.
Article
Work on ethnic and nationalist violence has emerged from two largely nonintersecting literatures: studies of ethnic conflict and studies of political violence. Only recently have the former begun to attend to the dynamics of violence and the latter to the dynamics of ethnicization. Since the emergent literature on ethnic violence is not structured by clearly defined theoretical oppositions, we organize our review by broad similarities of methodological approach: (a) Inductive work at various levels of aggregation seeks to identify the patterns, mechanisms, and recurrent processes implicated in ethnic violence. (b) Theory-driven work employs models of rational action drawn from international relations theory, game theory, and general rational action theory. (c) Culturalist work highlights the discursive, symbolic, and ritualistic aspects of ethnic violence. We conclude with a plea for the disaggregated analysis of the heterogeneous phenomena we too casually lump together as “ethnic violence.”
Article
Despite being told that we now live in a cosmopolitan world, more and more people have begun to assert their identities in ways that are deeply rooted in the local. These claims of autochthony—meaning “born from the soil”—seek to establish an irrefutable, primordial right to belong and are often employed in politically charged attempts to exclude outsiders. In The Perils of Belonging, Peter Geschiere traces the concept of autochthony back to the classical period and incisively explores the idea in two very different contexts: Cameroon and the Netherlands. In both countries, the momentous economic and political changes following the end of the cold war fostered anxiety over migration. For Cameroonians, the question of who belongs where rises to the fore in political struggles between different tribes, while the Dutch invoke autochthony in fierce debates over the integration of immigrants. This fascinating comparative perspective allows Geschiere to examine the emotional appeal of autochthony—as well as its dubious historical basis—and to shed light on a range of important issues, such as multiculturalism, national citizenship, and migration.
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--Dept. of History, Stanford University. Copyright. Bibliography: leaves 235-251.
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striking aspect of recent developments in Africa is that democratization seems to trigger a general obsession with autochthony and ethnic citizenship invariably defined against “strangers”— that is, against all those who “do not really belong.” Thus political liberalization leads, somewhat paradoxically, to an intensification of the politics of belonging: fierce debates on who belongs where, violent exclusion of “strangers” (even if this refers to people with the same nationality who have lived for generations in the area), and a general affirmation of roots and origins as the basic criteria of citizenship and belonging. Such obsessions are all the more striking since historians and anthropologists used to qualify African societies as highly inclusive, marked by an emphasis on “wealth-in-people” (in contrast to Europe’s “wealth-in-things”) and a wide array of institutional mechanisms for including people (adoption, fosterage, the broad range of classificatory kinship terminology). In many African political formations, prior to liberalization there was an important social distinction between autochthons and allochthons, but its implications were strikingly different from today. Often rulers came from allochthon clans who emphasized their origin from elsewhere, yet had privileged access to political positions. Since the late 1980s, in contrast, autochthony has become a powerful slogan to exclude the Other, the allogène, the stranger. Political liberalization seems to have strengthened a decidedly nonliberal tendency towards closure and exclusion (cf. Bayart 1996).
Article
Is there case study evidence of a relationship between the socialconstruction of ethnic identities and the probability of ethnic war? Themere observation that ethnic identities are socially constructed doesnot by itself explain ethnic violence and may not even be particularlyrelevant. Our purpose here is to see if we can reject the nullhypothesis that the social construction of ethnicity has little or nobearing on the likelihood of ethnic violence. Our procedure is toexamine closely the narratives of expert observers of some highlyviolent episodes of ethnic relations. Although a different set of casestudies might yield different overall conclusions, the narratives weexamined contain useful clues about the mechanisms that link identityconstruction and ethnic violence.
Déclaration des Mai Mai de Fizi à la conférence nationale sur la paix, la sécurité et le développement dans les provinces du
  • Assanda Joseph Mwenebatu
Assanda, Joseph Mwenebatu. 2008. "Déclaration des Mai Mai de Fizi à la conférence nationale sur la paix, la sécurité et le développement dans les provinces du Nord-Kivu et Sud-Kivu tenue à Goma en janvier 2008."
La houe, la vache et le fusil-Conflits liés à la transhumance en territoires de Fizi et Uvira
  • Justine Brabant
  • K Jean-Louis
  • Nzweve
Brabant, Justine, and Jean-Louis K. Nzweve. 2013. La houe, la vache et le fusil-Conflits liés à la transhumance en territoires de Fizi et Uvira (Sud-Kivu, RDC): État des lieux et leçons tirées de l'expérience de LPI. Uppsala : Life and Peace Institute.
  • Rogers Brubaker
Brubaker, Rogers. 2004. Ethnicity without Groups. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press.
Fizi-Sud-Kivu: Personne n’ose parler des abus des Mai Mai
  • Durand Paul
Durand, Paul. 2012. "Fizi-Sud-Kivu: Personne n'ose parler des abus des Mai Mai." Syfia Grands Lacs. Agence de Presse. http://www.syfia-grands-lacs.info.
Boston : Northeastern University Press . Human Rights Watch
  • Erving Goffman
Goffman, Erving. 1974. Frame Analysis. Boston : Northeastern University Press. Human Rights Watch. 2012. "DR Congo: Awaiting Justice One Year After Ethnic Attack." www.hrw.org.
Being at War, Being Young: Violence and Youth in North Kivu
  • Luca Jourdan
Jourdan, Luca. 2004. "Being at War, Being Young: Violence and Youth in North Kivu." In Conflict and Social Transformation in Eastern DR Congo, edited by Koen Vlassenroot and Timothy Raeymaekers, 157 -76. Ghent : Academia Press Scientific Publishers.
Understanding the Crisis in Kivu: Report of the CODESRIA Mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Mamdani Mahmood
Mamdani, Mahmood. 1998. "Understanding the Crisis in Kivu: Report of the CODESRIA Mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo. September, 1997." Cape Town: CODESRIA.
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