2017, February 23. I convened the panel entitled ‘L’Etat ni miye, l’Etat ni weye, l ‘Etat ni shiye bote’. Unheard Voices, Everyday Power and Social Organization in Urban DRC’ at the International Studies Association’s annual convention in Baltimore.
The panel was chaired by Professor Gilles Carbonnier (at the Graduate Institute, Geneva) and invited two discussants, Pierre Englebert (Pomona University, California) and Oliver Jütersonke (The Graduate Institute, Geneva), to comment on 4 panelists’ works. Karen Büscher (Ghent University) discussed issues of statebuilding in Congo’s ‘boomtowns’, Suda Perera (University of Birmingham) dissected the ‘legitimacy loophole’ found in international intervention schemes, Michel Thill (Ghent University) gave a fine-grained analysis on negotiating order in local markets in Bukavu, and mine, which provided analytical and ethnographic insights on what I termed the ‘composite state’.
The abstract of the panel read as follow:
‘Marked by a long history of violence, scholars and policy-makers alike have frequently portrayed the Democratic Republic of Congo as a ‘paradigmatic case of state failure’, the ‘Rape Capital of the World’, Africa’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ to name a few. However, many academics of various disciplinary backgrounds took on decidedly novel, bottom-up and multi-disciplinary approaches. These seek to theorize how diffuse micro-power relations among myriad of private and public actors, who interact daily as they craft socio-economic survival skills, claim political voice or negotiate access to public services, disrupt our conventional order/disorder, state/non-state, formal/informal, public/private analytical dyads. Left unquestioned, binary, linear thinking obscures other equally primordial multi-trajectory dynamics that affect societal change at all levels. As the title of this panel attests, ‘the State is me, the State is you, the State is all of us’, power interactions are nowhere and everywhere. Such problématiques prove particularly salient in growing Congolese cities where scarce state-controlled urbanization and the ‘architecture of fear’ affect complex patterns of micro and macro-social organizations whose contours and larger ramifications at the national and international levels remain largely unexplored. This panel thus hopes to promote alternative and original contributions from young scholars dedicated to these issues’.
2016, October 11. Organized the screening of Kristof Bilsen‘s documentary ‘Elephant’s Dream‘ followed by an open discussion with the producer and Professor Tom De Herdt (University of Antwerp, Belgium) at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). The event was made possible thanks to the logistical help of PhD candidate Cyril Brandt at UvA’s Education and Development research group, and the financial and logistical support of Dennis Rodgers, professor of International Development Studies at UvA’s Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences.
About 60 students both undergraduates and graduates attended the even that night, ans many asked questions to Kristof Bilsen who kindly shared his personal experience working in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Additional information on the movie’s synopsis can be found here, and one of my blog posts commenting the documentary can be found here.