Tag Archives: Congo

Anna Hedlund: Sharp lines, blurred structures: Politics of wartime rape in armed conflict

Whenever there is armed conflict, sexual violence and rape, often against women and girls, soon emerge as central concerns in the global public. This is an important topic, as rape is often used as “a weapon of war.” It is a dangerous concern, nevertheless. Opposing war parties commonly develop public relations strategies aimed at exploiting the global concern over sexual violence. Further, “rape as a weapon of war” may be a false assumption, for it may overshadow other atrocities inherent in nearly all armed conflicts and the focus may be on rape as a selective phenomenon separated from the political and economic context.
Continue reading

Joe Trapido: Epochs and continents: Potlatch, articulation, and violence in the Congo

This post is part of the Modes of Production feature moderated and edited by Patrick Neveling and Joe Trapido.

From the sixteenth century onward, European trading networks grew ever more extensive. In some places, they displaced or directly subjugated the indigenous population early on. In others, merchants entered trading relationships with locals. In some parts of Asia, these traders interacted with forms of social organization that had affinities with Europe—dense populations with large merchant classes, and states that extracted tribute over large areas (Wolf 1997: 73–101). In other places, power and resources were distributed according to very different rules: in particular, wealth was more directly related to the person. This is not to say that these places lacked markets or currency;  they often held large markets and had an amazing diversity of objects for mediating transactions, but these objects are better seen as an element of, or adjunct to, the value of the person. I am calling such societies human modes of production.1
Continue reading

Joseph Trapido: Music, ritual, and capitalism in west central African history

There was a strong relationship between music and political-economic power in the precolonial Congo basin. This was because music was an integral part of a ritual nexus that dominated social life. Those who controlled the ritual nexus became rich and powerful, and controlled trade between locals and an expanding capitalism (MacGaffey 2000). Here I will show how music was important to this interface.
Continue reading