Everyday resistance, peacebuilding and state-making addresses debates on liberal peace and the policies of peacebuilding through a theoretical and empirical study of resistance in peacebuilding contexts. Examining the case of ‘Africa’s World War’ in the DRC, it locates resistance in the experiences of war, peacebuilding and state-making by exploring discourses, violence and everyday forms of survival as acts that attempt to challenge or mitigate such experiences. The analysis of resistance offers a possibility to bring the historical and sociological aspects of both peacebuilding and the case of the DRC, providing new nuanced understanding of these processes and the particular case.
This chapter explains the three main purposes of the book and introduces its approach to resistance, peacebuilding and ‘Africa’s World War’. It focuses on analysing the accounts of resistance in peace and conflict studies, showing that they have ultimately focused on hybridity, missing an important opportunity to theorise resistance. The chapter also identifies important limitations in existing accounts, suggesting a closer use of the everyday framework as an alternative.
This chapter offers the theoretical framework for the sociological analysis of peacebuilding. Its aim is to set two core arguments of the book: firstly that peacebuilding processes have a plural, improvised and contradictory nature; and secondly that resistance is rooted in the coercive and extractive practices of war and state-making and not in an international-local contention. This does not try to demonise peacebuilding and romanticise resistance – quite the opposite – the sociological approach highlights the continuous transformations and contestations that actors and processes in a ‘post-war’ setting go through.
This chapter develops the framework of resistance. It defines everyday resistance as the practices of individuals and collectives in a subordinated position to mitigate or deny the claims made by elites and the effects of domination, while advancing their own agenda. The chapter proposes a categorisation of two different practices following different levels of engagement against authority claims: claim-regarding acts (tax evasion against tax levy, mockery of authorities’ claims to deference) and self-regarding acts (subversion of peacebuilding vocabulary to further peasant agendas, taking over the delivery of social services and goods changing with it modes of social organisation and political order). This gradation improves the everyday framework by including different practices and going beyond the dichotomies in the resistance literature around intentionality, violence and non-violence, and direct and indirect practices.
This chapter examines the case of ‘Africa’s World War’ in historical and regional perspective, identifying the different conflicting visions of order that coexist in the region, and giving the necessary background to the international peacebuilding strategies.
This chapter examines the discursive realm. Discourses are not taken as truths; they convey elements of how power and resistance operate. The chapter examines public and private statements by statebuilders (both national and international) as well as from a wide range of popular sectors (peasant cooperatives, NGOs, journalists, university professors, and street and market sellers). The chapter first examines statebuilding discourses developed as a claim to authority. The chapter then concentrates on mockery, denigration, slandering and subversion of meaning articulated by popular classes. They constitute discursive practices of resistance that deny the claims to legitimate authority and deference.
This chapter examines violent resistance through the actions of Mai Mai militias and the ways the civilian population relate to them. This is primarily illustrated through the experiences related by interviews undertaken with combatants from Mai Mai militias in South Kivu, including Yakutumba and Raia Mutumboki. In the context of Eastern DRC, armed resistance links with other forms of resistance in its struggle against the effects of an increased militarisation of rural authority and worsened conditions of living. For rural popular classes these effects are largely seen as benefiting the economic and security interests of Congolese and Rwandan elites, and not as realising their aspirations for land, dignified living and political participation.
This chapter explores how creative survival, reciprocity and solidarity allow for mitigating extractive practices and the military rule that is put in place in rural areas. These practices represent forms of reappropriation, simultaneously delegitimising political order, and hence subverting it. The chapter illustrates that despite the context of violence, popular classes still aspire to improve their conditions of living in terms of political participation and economic distribution. In contrast with the last chapter, these practices have women as their protagonists, but as in the previous chapter, they are interconnected with different forms of resistance. This chapter also illustrates the pre-existing democratic configurations of order and how national and international strategies largely operate by disregarding them.
This chapter recaps the core arguments, highlights the contributions of the book and discusses the final implications. One of these implications is to take the next step in peace and conflict studies. This means that if the study of resistance is an important part of a critical project that seeks to provide a more nuanced, realistic and critical account of peacebuilding, consolidating this turn by offering a solid account of resistance is a necessary step towards that project.