In Central Africa, and especially in the former Middle-Congo, flight as temporary migration was an important defense against brutal forced labor under the colonial state. The impact of flight movements thus became one side of a shifting balance of terror. This article seeks to follow compulsory labor and migration from the decline of concession company rule after World War I to the continuities of postcolonial labor services in the 1960s and 1970s. A “topographic analysis” helps to find particular hotspots of forced labor; the article especially focuses on Madingou, a region where various forms of compulsory labor became a particularly unbearable package. The combination of forced labor and work on the Congo-Océan railway line until the early 1930s; the subsequent attempts at reform, which gave way to a new intensification of forced labor during World War II; and, finally, the ambiguous reforms and hidden continuities through the late colonial state and into the independent administration—all left their mark on the district. Throughout these historical transitions, local populations proved quite able to adapt, initially through flight movements into neighboring colonies, then increasingly into districts where more benign conditions reigned, and finally into the urban centers of Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire.


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pp. 152-180
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