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
History, Politics, and Exile Identity among Rwandan Rebels in the Eastern Congo Conflict
This article analyzes how the 1994 genocide in Rwanda is recalled and described by members of a Hutu rebel group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) whose leadership can be linked to the 1994 atrocities in Rwanda. The article explores how individuals belonging to this rebel group, currently operating in the eastern territories of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), articulate, contest, and oppose the dominant narrative of the Rwandan genocide. Based on ethnographic fieldwork with members of the FDLR in a rebel camp, this article shows how a community of exiled fighters and second-generation Hutu refugees contest the official version of genocide by constructing a counterhistory of it. Through organized practices such as political demonstrations and military performances, it further shows how political ideologies and violence are being manufactured and reproduced within a setting of military control.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.