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Business of Civil War

New Forms of Life in the Debris of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Patience Kabamba

Publication Year: 2013

Within the context of the absence of effective state sovereignty and the presence of numerous armed struggles for power, Nande traders have managed to build and protect self-sustaining, prosperous, transnational economic enterprises in eastern Congo. This book discusses the commercial enterprises of the Nande trust networks and the subsequent transnational community they have produced, thereby challenging the assumption that a ìweak stateî or a ìfailed stateî or even a ìcollapsed stateî can be presumed to signal a ìfailedî society. It demonstrates the fact that several sovereignties and property right systems can coexist side by side, reinforcing each other ñ an idea which seems inconceivable for those with a normative view of governmental institutions and state sovereignty. Rethinking the question of African state formation, the study contributes to the formulation of a more rigorously transnational and local paradigms in the study of post-colonial African state formations. It constitutes an original contribution to critical theory of societal responses to processes of state implosion, and the anthropology of new social formations that emerge when states disintegrate, especially in war-torn Africa. The book also discusses issues related to the dynamics of conflict, new state formation, transnational trade network, ethnicity, and global political and economic governance. In the midst of abundant anti-ethnic literature on African studies, this study posits that there may be a renewed usefulness and necessity in theorizing the salience and continuing production of ëethnicí differences in a manner that challenges the notion of ethnicity as merely a devious and divisive invention of colonialism that must simply be overcome.

Published by: African Books Collective


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pp. 1-3

Title page

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p. 4-4

Copyright page

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p. 5-5


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pp. v-vi

List of Maps and Tables

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

This book is dedicated to Charles Tilly who, according to close sources, was reading my manuscript and e-mailing me from the hospital. Tilly was involved in in this project until the end of his life. He remains for me not only an academic mentor, but also an example of a great man and a fine human being. ...

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pp. xiii-xvi

Not too far from V. S. Naipaul’s Bend in the River there lies a small but rapidly growing city called Butembu. A city of perhaps 600,000 inhabitants, which figures in a few novels or poems in many languages. Patience Kabamba takes us in this book precisely to Butembu where he has conducted intensive fieldwork. ...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-20

In The Mission Song (2007), John Le Carré writes: “If one were patrolling the globe in search of great problems to address, the DRC – known for a period (1971-1997) as Zaire and sometimes as Congo-Kinshasa – would be the logical first stop.” At the beginning of the novel, Maxie, the protagonist declares: ...

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2. “The Failed State”: A Hegemonic Discourse?

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pp. 21-44

Throughout the post-colonial period, the study of the African states has resulted in claims of a failed or collapsed state, where the central government of a country is no longer able to provide the leadership and protection necessary for the people. These analyses qualify post-colonial African states as failed states. ...

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3. The Emergence of Nande: A Socio-political History

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pp. 45-74

About a thousand years ago, indigenous Congo pygmies first welcomed Bantu-speaking groups from the south searching for copper. Five hundred years ago, Arab traders from the east and Portuguese merchants from the West entered the Congo shopping for ivory and slaves. ...

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4. Theoretical Issues in the Nande Trading Networks

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pp. 75-100

Trading in Nande is carried out by a network of informal entrepreneurs who, in the absence of an overarching regulatory framework, have gradually taken over the role of political and economic power brokers. This chapter explores the origins, the reproduction, and the conditions of possibility for the emergence of a group of transnational traders in Butembo, ...

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5. Strategies and Structural Frameworks that Facilitated Economic Growth in the Nande Region

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pp. 101-132

As earlier stated, the first thing that motivated people to leave their home and descend into the dangerous Semeliki Valley was the need to gather as much salt as they could. Expeditions of caravans to acquire salt were the most important long-distance economic activity during the pre-colonial period. ...

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6. Playing the Ethnic Card in the Formation of a Postcolonial African State

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pp. 133-148

This chapter will attempt to answer a number of key questions: How does ethnicity play out among the Nande and to what extent can it be considered an explanatory variable for the current social and economic order in the region? What is it about the Nande social organisation that makes this order possible? ...

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7. The Elite Question

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pp. 149-168

This chapter demonstrates that maintaining trustful relations among Nande trading networks is not as easy as it sounds. Traders have to fight other actors, who are also contenders for control of social surplus. The new entrepreneurial elite who emerged from the disintegration of the DRC state are challenged by two former social elites: the customary elite and the intellectual elite. ...

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8. Gold and Guns: Protecting Capitalist Investment during Social Fragmentation and Violence

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pp. 169-190

Hitherto, this book has sought to uphold the proposition that even in apparently chaotic situations of civil war and state disintegration, some sense of social order and economic prosperity may be maintained, and that new forms of life may be produced that will shape the process of state (re-)formation. ...

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9. Nande Trust Networks in New Globalised Relations: Invention of Post-postcolonial State?

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pp. 191-204

Nande traders continue to engage in various ways with the global economy, primarily as intermediaries between subnational and transnational economic arenas. Their role as commercial power brokers put them at the centre of the emerging transnational economic order in the Great Lakes region. ...

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10. Conclusion

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pp. 205-214

This work has inquired into the ways by which Nande traders from DRC’s North Kivu province managed to protect self-sustaining and prosperous transnational enterprises in the absence of any central state power in the DRC and in the presence of multiple contenders for effective political control and a proliferation of fragmented coercive powers. ...


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pp. 215-230

Back cover

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p. 252-252

E-ISBN-13: 9782869785649
Print-ISBN-13: 9782869785526

Page Count: 250
Publication Year: 2013