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.
Meike J. de Goede
Olivier Schrauwen’s Arsène Schrauwen beyond Expectations of Autobiography, Colonial History and the Graphic Novel
Benoît Crucifix and Gert Meesters
This article proposes a close reading of Olivier Schrauwen’s Arsène Schrauwen, focusing on the various cultural discourses that it engages with, and particularly its ironical self-positioning within the field of comics. First of all, Schrauwen playfully questions the entrenchment of autobiography in the contemporary graphic novel by presenting a wholly fantasised adventure as biographical family history. This play with generic expectations is continued through Schrauwen’s reliance on the tropes of the adventure story and its figuration of the voyage. Arsène Schrauwen also draws on stereotypical images of both Belgium and the Belgian Congo and integrates them into a grotesque narrative so as to question the supposed unicity of the individual and colonial bodies. Last but not least, the book displays a highly self-reflexive approach to comics storytelling, building on a legacy from Flemish comics in order to play with reading conventions, graphic enunciation and abstraction, thereby thematising the perception of the main character.
Ritual in Its Own Ludic Right
Ritual can be rehabilitated in its own right by emphasizing what it has in common with play: the ludic evocation of a simultaneous shadow reality. What is more, ritual can be understood as an enjoyable form of playing with realities. More than a solemn occasion, useful because of its social and cultural functions, ritual is a festive enactment of a counterreality. Connectionist ideas on the parallel processing of schemas and repertoires lend themselves for mapping the properties of ritual in its own ludic right. The human mind allows for a rapid comparison by the parallel—and not serial or sequential— processing of alternative schemas for thought, action, and emotion. An ethnographic illustration is taken from a boys’ initiation ritual among the Wagenia (Congo).
Diversely echoing Gail Weiss (1999) and Paul Stoller and Cheryll Olkes (1987), I hold that maleficent fetishes that sustain lethal sorcery shape and enact, yet pervert, their proper contours of embodied interactions and transactions. These interactions are being absorbed and consumed, if not devoured, by the sensual order of the uncanny and by forces of abjection. From my immersion in the life of the Yaka people in Kinshasa and south-west Congo, I am aiming at some endogenous understanding of how interacting bodies – or more precisely, intercorporeal awareness – can conform to (attune to) and become subordinated to (and implicated by) the frenzy of the transgressive and annihilating ‘forces’ mobilised by maleficent fetishes and lethal sorcerous violence. I contend that the mysterious field of sorcery and maleficent fetishes among the Yaka seems to foster among complicitous pairs some pre-reflective and interpersonal awareness of their body in the fold of (embracing) images, fantasies, experiential gestalts and desire of sorts. This primary entwinement of (inter)corporeal capacities, ‘forces’, cultural expectations and horizons of significance may help us to comprehend innovatively the sensual articulation of a genuine epistemology and a groping for moral economy in the very mood of transgression and perversion. This merging of desire, intercorporeality and sensing out of things paradoxically ties in with the pursuit as well as the obliteration of ethics. Such intermingling shows up in people’s manifold search to tame or, for other purposes, to stir up forms of unsettling, rupture, paradoxes, indeterminacy, categorial and ontological aporias, perversion or even destructive violence.
Animals and Human Knowledge
The domestication and use of animals is an integral part of the history of technology, as beasts were used to improve the efficiency of agricultural, military, and transportation activities. Individuals and social groups often had to be introduced along with animal technologies, as the domestication, breeding, training, and handling of animals was a culture that could not be immediately learned. In the age of European empires, several ethnic groups were imported along with the animals that they tended. This article highlights the role of humans as part of animal technologies, as an important anthropological component when technologies that involve animals are introduced to new settlements and areas. Using three case studies in which animal technologies from Asia were introduced to other parts of the world, it can be seen that humans are an essential and integral component of animal technologies.
Intermedial Transgenericity in Anyango and Mairowitz's Graphic Adaptation of Heart of Darkness
Anyango and Mairowitz's graphic adaptation Heart of Darkness, published in 2010, interweaves parts of the original Conradian novella Heart of Darkness with several entries from Conrad's Congo Diary (1890), a series of stark factual notations he wrote down when visiting Congo in 1890. While this adaptation insists on a spatialization and historicization of the original text, the heterogeneous obscure graphic style as well as the intermediality created by the tension image-text-diary exposes the alterity and ambivalence within Conrad himself. This essay examines how the graphic narrative allows diary and fiction to act in dialogue with image, complicating Conrad's critique of Belgian colonialism and his implied indictment of British colonial expansion.
In the Human Development Report of 2010, 135 countries representing 92% of the world population had a higher Human Development Index than in the 1970s. Three countries were an exception to the rule: Zambia, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). As it celebrates its 50th anniversary of independence, the DRC rates itself 168th out of a total of 169 countries on the Human Development Index scale.
Congolese Refugees Seeking Cosmological Continuity in Urban Asylum
Avoiding poison refers here to practices of securitization that enable refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to exert agency in urban asylum in Uganda. I consider that the stakes of poisoning are not exclusively understood in terms of physiological survival, but are existential, relating to the ways that Congolese refugees imbue purpose in their lives through acts that restore cosmological continuity. Focusing on the cosmological logics through which refugees experience urban asylum, I argue that practices of avoiding poison can be seen as acts of securitization whereby refugees exert agency in precarious contexts of urban asylum.
Gender and Sexuality in the Punk Comic Book Zine Scene
Louie Dean Valencia-García
This article traces ways in which comic fanzines of the late 1970s and early 1980s transgressed against and conformed to accepted Spanish constructions of gender and sexuality of the day. Research is drawn from close readings of comics found in zines of the period, such as 96 Lágrimas, Ediciones moulinsart and Kaka de Luxe. Young Madrileños literally drew on images and tropes from a variety of sources, from punk musicians to Tintin in the Congo, making them their own. Through fanzines, often sold in Madrid’s Rastro, a Roma marketplace, young people became cultural producers, creating a culture that was postmodern and anti-fascist.
Challenges and dilemmas of MONUC/MONUSCO
Christian R. Manahl
“Around Kamanyola in Walungu territory, FARDC soldiers looted property and cattle and gang-raped a lady. When trying to fight off the rapists, two male members of the affected family were killed.” This is a short note from the daily situation report of MONUSCO’s South Kivu office, sent on 10 July 2010. It is one of many similar observations made by the dismayed and overwhelmed peacekeepers of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), whose first priority is the protection of civilians. On another day, or in another duty station, peacekeepers might report about a couple of children being abducted or a family burnt alive in their home by one of the militias roaming the subregion. On a few occasions – in July/August 2010 in Walikale territory in North Kivu, and in January and February 2011 in Fizi territory of South Kivu (see map 1) – the recurrent human rights violations in the DRC reached horrific proportions, with scores of people, including many children, sexually abused. In December 2008 and 2009, hundreds were massacred and several dozen abducted in Haut Uélé district (Province Orientale).