"Our Future Is Already in Jeopardy"

Duress and the Palimpsest of Violence of Two CAR Student Refugees in the DRC

in Conflict and Society
View More View Less
  • 1 Leiden University m.c.wilson@hum.leidenuniv.nl
Restricted access

Abstract

Duress results from the internalization of violence. Through the narratives of two Central African Republic student refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo, this article presents the multiple layers of violence they experience. After introducing violence, the article turns to its different layers by making use of the palimpsest metaphor. Three layers of violence interrelate and overlap: the first relates to chronic crisis in the Central African Republic; the second layer deals with the context of the urban jungle (Kinshasa); and the third layer is linked to the humanitarian agencies that fail to provide for urban refugees. The experience of these three layers adds up to duress. Duress colors the students’ agency and the decisions they make along their life paths.

Contributor Notes

MARIA CATHERINA WILSON JANSSENS is a PhD candidate at Leiden University. She previously studied languages and cultures of Africa at Ghent University and Leiden University. She has been traveling to Central Africa since 2005, first to the Democratic Republic of Congo and then to the Central African Republic. She graduated from a research master’s program with a thesis on “The Congolese Yankee" in which she describes the language practices of urban youth in Kisangani, DR Congo’s third-biggest city. Her research focuses on urban youth, mobility, identity, and violence. Email: m.c.wilson@hum.leidenuniv.nl

Conflict and Society

Advances in Research

  • AFP (Agence France-Presse). 2015. “Chinese Become Targets in DR Congo Anti-government Riots.Mail, 25 January. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/artide-2925241/Chinese-targets-DR-Congo-anti-government-riots.html.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ayimpam, Sylvie. 2014. Économie de la débrouille à Kinshasa: Informalité, commerce et réseaux sociaux [Fending economy in Kinshasa: Informality, trade, and social networks]. Paris: Karthala.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bepou-Bangue, Johanes Arnaud. 2013. La troupe de Bemba était tombée sur nos têtes [Bemba’s troupe fell on our heads]. Paris: L’Harmattan.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Berman, Eric G., and Louisa Lombard. 2008. The Central African Republic and Small Arms: A Regional Tinderbox. Geneva: Small Arms Survey.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bissakonou, Jonnhy Vianney. 2015. L’autre version de la crise centrafricaine [The other version of the Central African Republic crisis]. Paris: Editions L’Harmattan.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bouju, Jacky, and Mirjam de Bruijn. 2008. “Violences structurelles et violences systémiques: La violence des rapports sociaux en Afrique” [Structural violence and systemic violence: The violence of social relationships in Africa]. Le Bulletin de l’APAD 2728: 2–9.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Branco, Juan. 2016. “Les étranges affaires d’Areva en Afrique” [The strange business of Areva in Africa] Le Monde diplomatique. 1 November.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bredeloup, Sylvie. 2008. “L’aventurier, une figure de la migration africaine” [The adventurer, a figure of African migration]. Cahiers internationaux de sociologie 125: 281306. https://doi.org/10.3917/cis.125.0281.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Carayannis, Tatiana. 2008. “Elections in the DRC: The Bemba Surprise.” 2000. Special report. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chouliaraki, Lilie. 2017. “Symbolic Bordering: The Self-Representation of Migrants and Refugees in Digital News.Popular Communication 15 (2): 7894. https://doi.org/10.1080/15405702.2017.1281415.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Clark-Kazak, Christina R. 2011. Recounting Migration: Political Narratives of Congolese Young People in Uganda. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • de Boeck, Filip. 2004. “On Being Shege in Kinshasa: Children, the Occult and the Street.” In Trefon 2004: 155173. London.

  • de Boeck, Filip, and Marie-Françoise Plissart. 2004. Kinshasa: Tales of the Invisible City. Ghent: Ludion.

  • de Villers, Gauthier, Bogumil Jewsiewicki, and Laurent Monnier, eds. 2002. Manières de vivre: Économie de la “débrouille” dans les villes du Congo/Zaïre [Ways of living: The Economy of Fending in the cities of Congo/Zaire]. Paris: L’Harmattan.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Debos, Marielle. 2016. Living by the Gun in Chad: Combatants, Impunity and State Formation. Zed Books.

  • Dryden-Peterson, Sarah. 2006. “‘I Find Myself as Someone Who Is in the Forest’: Urban Refugees as Agents of Social Change in Kampala, Uganda.Journal of Refugee Studies 19 (3): 381395. https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/fel010.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Farmer, Paul. 2004a. “An Anthropology of Structural Violence.Current Anthropology 45 (3): 305325. doi:10.1086/382250.

  • Farmer, Paul. 2004b. “On Suffering and Structural Violence: A View from Below.In Scheper-Hughes and Bourgois 2004b: 281289.

  • Geenen, Kristien. 2009. “‘Sleep Occupies No Space’: The Use of Public Space by Street Gangs in Kinshasa.Africa 79 (3): 347368. https://doi.org/10.3366/E0001972009000850.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hage, Ghassan. 2009. “Waiting Out the Crisis: On Stuckedness and Governmentality.” In Waiting, ed. Ghassan Hage, 97106. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hendriks, Maarten, Paul Ponsaers, and Sylvain Shomba Kinyamba. 2013. “Street Children in Kinshasa: Striking a Balance between Perpetrator and Victim through Agency.Etnografia e Ricerca Qualitativa 6 (1): 8196. https://doi.org/10.3240/73068.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ICG (International Crisis Group). 2007. Central African Republic: Anatomy of a Phantom State. Nairobi/Brussels: ICG.

  • Iwilade, Akin. 2013. “Crisis as Opportunity: Youth, Social Media and the Renegotiation of Power in Africa.Journal of Youth Studies 16 (8): 10541068. https://doi.org/10.1080/13676261.2013.772572.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jackson, Michael. 2008. “The Shock of the New: On Migrant Imaginaries and Critical Transitions.Ethnos 73 (1): 5772. https://doi.org/10.1080/00141840801927533.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kassai, Max-Landry. 2016. “Les souvenirs d’une enfance troubleé” [Memories of a troubled childhood]. Le Chroniqueur Centrafricain (blog), 10 May. http://lechroniqeurcentrafricain.over-blog.com/2016/05/les-souvenirs-d-une-enfance-troublee.html.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kassai, Max-Landry. 2017. “Mon refuge au Congo (1)” [My refuge in Congo (1)]. Le Chroniqueur Centrafricain (blog), 3 August. http://www.connecting-in-times-of-duress.nl/mon-refuge-au-congo-1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kleist, Nauja. 2017. “Returning Home with Nothing but an Empty Bag: Topographies of Social Hope after Deportation to Ghana.” In Hope and Uncertainty in Contemporary African Migration, ed. Nauja Kleist and Dorte Thorsen, 173192. New York: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lambertz, Peter. 2018. “Whales in the Congo River? Boats, Names and Bureaucratic Norms on Congo’s Inland Waterways.TRAFO: Blog for Transregional Research, 3 February. https://trafo.hypotheses.org/9146.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lombard, Louisa. 2012a. “Raiding Sovereignty in Central African Borderlands.PhD diss., Duke University.

  • Lombard, Louisa. 2012b. “Rébellion et limites de la consolidation de la paix en République centrafricaine” [Rebellion and limits of peacebuilding in the Central African Republic]. Politique africaine 125: 189208. https://doi.org/10.3917/polaf.125.0189

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lombard, Louisa. 2016. State of Rebellion: Violence and Intervention in the Central African Republic. London: Zed Books.

  • Lombard, Louisa, and Sylvain Batianga-Kinzi. 2015. “Violence, Popular Punishment, and War in the Central African Republic.African Affairs 114 (454): 5271. https://doi.org/10.1093/afraf/adu079.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lucht, Hans. 2012. Darkness before Daybreak: African Migrants Living on the Margins in Southern Italy Today. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Malkki, Liisa H. 1995. Purity and Exile: Violence, Memory, and National Cosmology among Hutu Refugees in Tanzania. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mujinya, Bahati Bahati. 2015. “Le phénomène ‘Kuluna’ ou la violence des jeunes: Un défi pour la gouvernance sécuritaire de la ville de Kinshasa” [The “Kuluna” phenonmeon or youth violence: A challenge for the security governance of the city of Kinshasa] In Culture et religion en Afrique au seuil du XXie siècle: Conscience d’une renaissance? [Culture and religion in Africa on the threshold of the 20th century: Conscience of a rebirth?], ed. Issiaka-P. Latoundji Lalèyê, 229242. Dakar: CODESRIA.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Porgès, Laurence. 2001. “Le coup d’état de mai 2001 au Centrafrique: Un événement presque ignoré” [The May 2001 coup in Central Africa: An event almost ignored]. Afrique Contemporaine 200: 3449.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Richards, Paul. 2005. “New War: An Ethnographic Approach.In No Peace No War: An Anthropology of Contemporary Armed Conflicts, ed. Paul Richards, 121. Athens: Ohio University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schapendonk, Joris. 2011. “Turbulent Trajectories: Sub-Saharan African Migrants Heading North.PhD diss., Radboud University Nijmegen.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. 1993. Death Without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • Scheper-Hughes, Nancy, and Philippe Bourgois. 2004a. “Introduction: Making Sense of Violence.In Scheper-Hughes and Bourgois 2004b: 132.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Scheper-Hughes, Nancy, and Philippe Bourgois, eds. 2004b. Violence in War and Peace: An Anthology. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

  • Smith, Stephen. 2015. “CAR’s History: The Past of a Tense Present.In Making Sense of the Central African Republic, ed. Tatiana Carayannis and Louisa Lombard, 1752. London: Zed Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sommers, Marc. 2001. Fear in Bongoland: Burundi Refugees in Urban Tanzania. Berghahn Books.

  • Thomas, Yanis. 2016. Centrafrique: Un destin volé—Histoire d’une domination française [Central African Republic: A stolen destiny—History of a French domination]. Marseille: Agone.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Trefon, Theodore. 2004. Reinventing Order in the Congo: How People Respond to State Failure in Kinshasa. London: Zed Books.

  • Tsakala Munikengi, Télésphore and Willy Bongo-Pasi Moke Sangol. 2004. “The Diploma Paradox: University of Kinshasa between Crisis and Salvation.In Trefon 2004: 8298.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Turner, Simon. 2015. “‘We Wait for Miracles’: Ideas of Hope and Future among Clandestine Burundian Refugees in Nairobi.In Ethnographies of Uncertainty in Africa, ed. Elizabeth Cooper and David Pratten, 173191. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency). 2010. “Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/protection/basic/3b66c2aa10/convention-protocol-relating-status-refugees.html.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UNHCR. 2014. “Central African Republic Situation.UNHCR Regional Update 30. 2329 August. https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/details/32684.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UNHCR. 2016. “RD Congo Factsheet.31 August.

  • UNHCR. 2018. “Refugees from the Central African Republic.Last updated 31 July. http://data.unhcr.org/car/country.php?id=45.

  • Vigh, Henrik. 2006. “Social Death and Violent Life Chances.In Navigating Youth, Generating Adulthood: Social Being in an African Context, ed. Catrine Christiansen, Mats Utas, and Henrik Vigh, 3160. Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vigh, Henrik. 2008. “Crisis and Chronicity: Anthropological Perspectives on Continuous Conflict and Decline.Ethnos 73 (1): 524. https://doi.org/10.1080/00141840801927509.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Weyns, Yannick, Lotte Hoex, Filip Hilgert, and Steven Spittaels. 2014. Mapping Conflict Motives: The Central African Republic. Antwerp: IPIS.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wilson Janssens, Maria Catherina. 2012. “The Congolese Yankee: Language and Identity among Youth in KisanganiMaster Thesis, Leiden University.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wilson Janssens, Maria Catherina, and Sjoerd Sijsma. 2016. “Student Refugees from CARhttp://voice4thought.org/pamphlet/.

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 238 100 4
Full Text Views 44 11 1
PDF Downloads 37 18 3