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Meike J. de Goede

Abstract

The Matsouanist religion in Congo-Brazzaville has its roots in Amicale, a sociopolitical association and movement that aimed to improve the rights of colonial subjects that emerged in the late 1920s. After its leader, André Matsoua, died in prison, the movement transformed into a religion that worships Matsoua as a prophet. In this article, I argue that this transformation should be understood not as a rupture but as continuation, albeit in a different discursive domain. This transformation was steered by duress, or the internalization of structural violence in everyday life under colonialism. Through this discursive transformation, Matsoua’s followers appropriated the movement and brought it into a culturally known place that enabled them to continue their struggle for liberation from colonial oppression.

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Mirjam de Bruijn

Abstract

Africa is at the lower end of internet use, but Facebook Connectivity is rapidly increasing, linking diaspora and local people in mainly urban regions in Africa. A survey conducted in N’Djaména revealed that 1 in 10 people uses Facebook, which is an important platform for these connected Chadians to express feelings, write thoughts, and create networks (i.e., to create a social life). In countries where daily conflict, oppression, insecurity, and mistrust pervade social life, posts and messages engage with these circumstances in a certain dialogue, which can be understood as an expression of duress. This article follows three Facebook users from both the diaspora and N’Djaména, and I position their Facebook expressions and actions in the context of their personal lives in contemporary Chadian political and connectivity history. Facebook appears to be an escape route from the reality of duress, and a form of practical action coupled with political agency.

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Introduction

Ethnographic Engagement with Bureaucratic Violence

Erin R. Eldridge and Amanda J. Reinke

Abstract

Bureaucracies are dynamic and interactive sociocultural worlds that drive knowledge production, power inequalities and subsequent social struggle, and violence. The authors featured in this special section mobilize their ethnographic data to examine bureaucracies as animated spaces where violence, whether physical, structural, or symbolic, manifests in everyday bureaucratic practices and relationships. The articles span geographic contexts (e.g., United States, Canada, Chile, Eritrea) and topics (e.g., migration, extractive economies, law and sociolegal change, and settler colonialism) but are bound together in their investigation of the violence of the administration of decisions, care, and control through bureaucratic means.

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Introduction

The Generative Power of Political Emotions

Mette-Louise Johansen, Therese Sandrup, and Nerina Weiss

Abstract

Moral outrage has until now been conceptualized as a call to action, a reaction to injustice and transgressions, and a forceful motor for democratic participation, acts of civil disobedience, and violent and illicit action. This introduction goes beyond linear causality between trigger events, political emotions, and actions to explore moral outrage as it is experienced and expressed in contexts of political violence, providing a better understanding of that emotion’s generic power. Moral outrage is here understood as a multidimensional emotion that may occur momentarily and instantly, and exist as an enduring process and being-in-the-world, based on intergenerational experiences of violence, state histories, or local contexts of fear and anxiety. Because it appears in the intersubjective field, moral outrage is central for identity politics and social positioning, so we show how moral outrage may be a prism to investigate and understand social processes such as mobilization, collectivities, moral positioning and responsiveness, and political violence.

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Introduction

Understanding Experiences and Decisions in Situations of Enduring Hardship in Africa

Mirjam de Bruijn and Jonna Both

Abstract

The enduring experience of hardship, in the form of layers of various crises, can become deeply ingrained in a society, and people can come to act and react under these conditions as if they lead a normal life. This process is explored through the analytical concept of duress, which contains three elements: enduring and accumulating layers of hardship over time, the normalization of this hardship, and a form of deeply constrained agency. We argue that decisions made in duress have a significant impact on the social and political structures of society. This concept of duress is used as a lens to understand the lives of individual people and societies in Central and West Africa that have a long history of ecological, political, and social conflicts and crises.

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Made in Nigeria

Duress and Upwardly Mobile Youth in the Biography of a Young Entrepreneur in Enugu

Inge Ligtvoet

Abstract

What does duress mean in the lives of those who are not by definition understood to be living in duress—namely, upwardly mobile young people in a relatively peaceful city in southeast Nigeria? In this article, I try to answer that question by presenting the life story of Azu, a young designer in Enugu who has made his way out of a poverty-stricken background through a relatively successful entrepreneurship.His biography, based on interviews and observations, and partially through a shared experience of constraint in Nigeria, serves as an example of duress in the lives of those who—by family, educational background, or career success—are considered “well-off” compared with most youths in the country. I argue that duress for these youths is informed by social expectations due to their acquired status as much as by the sociopolitical uncertainties that they have been confronted with throughout their lives.

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The Many Layers of Moral Outrage

Kurdish Activists and Diaspora Politics

Nerina Weiss

Abstract

This article takes the expressions of moral outrage in an illegal demonstration in Norway as a point of entry to explore how the political unfolds in Kurdish diasporic spaces. The premise for this analysis is that moral outrage among pro-Kurdish activists is an enduring, intergenerational process, the expression of which displays a multitemporality and multidirectionality. In order to explore the many layers of moral outrage this article proposes an analysis along the literature of political ritual and performance, which focuses on signification, symbolism, identity constructions, and the importance of audiences. I argue that Kurdish activists consciously perform their moral outrage to position themselves in relation to their host country, other Kurdish activists in Norway, and the larger transnational Kurdish community in Europe. As such, moral outrage turns out to be central in the enactment of Kurdish diaspora politics.

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Migrant Residents in Search of Residences

Locating Structural Violence at the Interstices of Bureaucracies

Megan Sheehan

Abstract

Latin American migration to Chile has increased exponentially over the past 20 years. As migrants settle in Santiago, they face numerous articulations of bureaucracy—at entry, in visa processing, in labor regulations, and in housing law. This article charts a central paradox of migrant experiences with two discordant bureaucratic entities in Chile. Migrants are frequently able to acquire residency documents, yet they are often unable to enter into formal rental agreements or easily access adequate housing. Drawing on data collected during 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Santiago, Chile, I explore migrants’ lived experience of bureaucracy. As migrants navigate the processes involved in attaining visas and in securing housing, their experiences expose the interstices of bureaucracy, sites of disjuncture between contrasting bureaucratic entities and realms. These bureaucratic interstices are critical sites where structural violence is fostered, normalized, and made invisible.

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Moral Thresholds of Outrage

The March for Hrant Dink and New Ways of Mobilization in Turkey

Lorenzo D’Orsi

Abstract

This article analyses the social construction of moral outrage, interpreting it as both an extemporaneous feeling and an enduring process, objectified in narratives and rituals and permeating public spaces as well as the intimate sphere of social actors’ lives. Based on ethnography carried out in Istanbul, this contribution focuses on the assassination of the Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007. This provoked a moral shock and led to an annual commemoration in which thousands of people—distant in political, religious, ethnic positions—gather around a shared feeling of outrage. The article retraces the narratives of innocence and the moral frames that make Dink’s public figure different from other victims of state violence, thus enabling a moral and emotional identification of a large audience. Outrage over Dink’s murder has become a creative, mobilizing force that fosters new relationships between national history and subjectivity, and de-reifies essentialized social boundaries and identity claims.

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Navigating the Politics of Anxiety

Moral Outrage, Responsiveness, and State Accountability in Denmark

Mette-Louise Johansen

Abstract

This article explores how Danish police officers and social workers involved in countering violent extremism (CVE) seek to cope with the possibility of public moral outrage being directed at the welfare state when issues of security and integration arise. In such cases, state officials are faced with a difficult dilemma: on the one hand, they could be blamed for inefficient casework if there is a terror attack. On the other hand, the target group could perceive their intervention as outrageous, in which case it may end up producing the violence that it purports to prevent. The response to this dilemma is a dynamic shift between early and intense intervention on the one hand, and hesitation and “pulling back” from intervention on the other. I suggest that this dynamic response plays a crucial role in risk assessment and decision-making processes related to CVE efforts in Denmark.