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Guy Marcel Nono

English abstract: A pillar of African emergence and an important issue of political debate that is central to regional integration, free movement is however not yet acquired in Central Africa. Yet a glance at the pre colonial history invites us to believe that Central Africa has been an area of free movement. The recognition of a right that cannot be realized only by an agreement leads to the Central African states pledging to work together in the context of regional integration by recognizing their citizens' right to full mobility. This contribution highlights the efforts, challenges and prospects of free movement in Central Africa by reference to the African Union framework, and asks if the legal and institutional framework of free movement in Central Africa has led to the emergence of a social policy supportive of free movement at the sub regional level.

Spanish abstract: La libre circulación de personas es un pilar del África emergente, un tema importante en el debate político, un punto central de la integración regional, y sin embargo todavía intangible en África Central. No obstante, una mirada a la historia precolonial nos invita a pensar que África Central ha sido un espacio de libre circulación. El reconocimiento de un derecho que no puede realizarse sólo por un acuerdo, conduce a que los Estados de África Central se comprometan a trabajar juntos en el marco de la integración regional para reconocer el derecho de sus ciudadanos a la movilidad total. Esta contribución destaca los esfuerzos, desafíos y perspectivas de la libre circulación en África Central en referencia con el marco de la Unión Africana, y se pregunta si el marco legal e institucional de la libre circulación en África Central ha llevado a la aparición de una política social que apoye la libre circulación a nivel subregional.

French abstract: Pilier de l'émergence de l'Afrique, enjeu des débats politiques et de l'intégration, la libre circulation n'est pas encore un acquis en Afrique Centrale. Pourtant, un regard porté sur l'histoire précoloniale nous invite à croire que l'Afrique centrale a été un espace de libre circulation. La reconnaissance d'un droit ne pouvant se faire que par l'objet d'un accord, les États d'Afrique Centrale se sont engagés dans le choix d'une histoire à réaliser ensemble dans le cadre de l'intégration, en consacrant dans des pactes communautaires la pleine mobilité de leurs ressortissants. Cette contribution met en évidence les efforts, défis et perspectives de la libre circulation en Afrique centrale par référence au cadre de l'Union africaine, et pose la question de savoir si le cadre juridique et institutionnel de la libre circulation en Afrique centrale a conduit à l'émergence d'une politique sociale en faveur de la libre circulation au niveau sous régional.

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Bonee and Fitina

Mbororo Nomads Facing and Adapting to Conflict in Central Africa

Adamou Amadou

Mbororo nomadic pastoralists have fled the Central African Republic (CAR) since 2003 because of atrocities perpetrated against them. Conflict has, in fact, always been a major motor behind nomadism for the Mbororo, along with the quest for pasture. The “normal” severity of Mbororo life, however, has been compounded by the “exceptional” severity caused by the situation in the CAR. This article analyzes the way in which the Mbororo distinguish between the two types of severity, and how these different forms of experienced hardship are accommodated in the pastoralists’ way of life. I show how historical trajectories with conflict and nomadic hardship allow refugee Mbororo to adjust to recurrent hardship by adapting their pathways and livelihood strategies. This illustrates the way in which duress is central in nomadic society.

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Subtracting the Narrative

Trade, Collecting, and Forgetting in the Kongo Coast Friction Zone during the Late Nineteenth Century

Zachary Kingdon

Museums can be theorized as sites of forgetting. Furthermore, British traders who collected carved tusks made by Kongo-speaking peoples of the Central African coast in the nineteenth century appear to have had no interest in accounting for the complex narrative scenes that embellished these works. Recent scholarship advocates applying an “archaeological sensibility” (Harrison 2013) that conceptualizes museum collections as “assemblages” in order to reveal new knowledge about collections. This article employs a version of this approach by applying an ichnography, or “science of traces” (Byrne 2013), to the visual narratives carved on tusks in the World Museum Liverpool collection and to the textual narratives of British traders’ from the period, to reveal discrepant and elided themes in these sources. The insights generated by probing the significance of these narrative disjunctions helps provide a “thicker” understanding of the dynamic, cosmopolitan “zone” of cross-cultural interaction from which the tusks were acquired.

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“Our Future Is Already in Jeopardy”

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

Maria Catherina Wilson Janssens

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.

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Jeremy Rich

In April 1884, a scandal erupted among colonial officials stationed in the French Central African colony of Gabon. Alexis d'Alexis, a customs officer, and Faucher, a member of Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza's third expedition into the Gabonese interior, accused one another of abuses against Africans. D'Alexis declared that Faucher had tortured a Senegalese sailor, and Faucher accused D'Alexis of engaging in sexual relationships with six African boys and men on the island. Although the charges never went beyond the colonial administration's internal correspondence, the allegations of aberrant conduct and the inquiry that resulted offer a fascinating glimpse of understandings of masculinity, internal friction, and the monitoring of intimate behavior within the French colonial administration in the Scramble for Africa. This case points to the fractured nature of state regulation of sexuality in the French empire, as well as the ways different officials defined and deployed constructions of abnormal masculinity as weapons in disputes.

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Understanding Experiences and Decisions in Situations of Enduring Hardship in Africa

Mirjam de Bruijn and Jonna Both

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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“Looking for One’s Life”

Trapped Mobilities and Adventure in Morocco

Sébastien Bachelet

This article examines how “irregular” migrants from West and Central Africa make sense of their trapped mobility in Morocco: for many, crossing into Europe has become almost impossible, returning to home countries “empty-handed” a shameful option, and staying very difficult in the face of repeated infringement of their rights. I explore the limits of contemporary depictions of a “migration crisis” that portray migrants south of the Mediterranean Sea as simply en route to Europe and fail to engage with (post)colonial entanglements. The article recalibrates the examinationof migrants’ lived experiences of stasis and mobility by exploring the emic notion of “adventure” among migrants “looking for their lives.” A focus on how migrants articulate their own (im)mobility further exposes and defies the pitfalls of abstract concepts such as “transit migration,” which is misleading in its implication of a fixed destination.

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Extended-Case Studies—Place, Time, Reflection

T. M. S. Evens and Don Handelman

Extended-case studies originated and flourished in multiple sites in Central Africa as British colonialism waned. The extended-case study method was created and shaped in response to complex social situations that emerged from and through ongoing and at times profound changes in the ways in which social and moral orders were put together. The extended case and situational analysis have from their very beginnings been cognate with complexity in social ordering, with the non-linearity of open-ended social fields, and with recursivity among levels of social ordering. Manchester methods originated as a result of profound shifts in the practice of anthropology and contributed to turning these changes into the practicing of ethnographic praxis. Yet over time, the explicit valuing and evaluating of Manchester perspectives disappeared from view. Witness the inane, reductionist comment by George Marcus (1995: 110) (a member of the American lit-crit hit mob of the 1980s), limiting “the extended-case method” (with no mention of Manchester) to “small-scale societies,” where it has been “an established technique … in the anthropology of law” (with no mention of Gluckman).