Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-7ccbd9845f-l8x48 Total loading time: 0.4 Render date: 2023-01-28T15:15:48.110Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Brokers of crisis: the everyday uncertainty of Eastern Congo's mineral négociants*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 November 2017

Christoph Vogel*
Affiliation:
Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland
Josaphat Musamba*
Affiliation:
Faculté des Sciences Sociales, Politiques, et Administratives, Université Simon Kimbangu, Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Abstract

Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) artisanal mining sector is often linked to the violent conflicts that have beset Central Africa for over two decades. While many analyses emphasise its ‘criminal’ and ‘illegal’ nature, less attention has been paid to the ambiguity of this economy, most prominently incarnated by the intermediate mineral traders called négociants. Focusing on their entrepreneurship, networks and everyday activities, this essay offers a more nuanced understanding of local mineral trade in the context of a ‘crisis economy’ framed by competing governable orders. It investigates the uncertainty along eastern DRC's mineral supply chains, that are undergoing major regulatory changes to curb the trade of so-called ‘conflict minerals’. Drawing from extensive fieldwork, this essay demonstrates how this uncertainty shapes the négociants’ role as brokers of socio-economic life in the provinces of North and South Kivu.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Footnotes

*

We wish to thank the JMAS editors and two anonymous referees. Judith Verweijen, Timothy Raeymaekers, Benedikt Korf and Koen Vlassenroot helped us brokering the uncertainty of previous drafts. Lievin Mbarushimana, Chrispin Mvano and Lebon Mulimbi made for an amazing team as we talked to numerous négociants, whose consent and collaboration are the foundation of this essay. Our fieldwork was generously supported by the Swiss National Science Fund (SNF) grant S-75141-03-01. Any remaining errors are ours alone.

References

REFERENCES

Adams, R. 1970. ‘Brokers and career mobility systems in the structure of complex societies’, Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 26, 4: 315–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Autesserre, S. 2012. ‘Dangerous tales: dominant narratives on the Congo and their unintended consequences’, African Affairs 111, 443: 121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bierschenk, T., Chauveau, J.-P. & Olivier de Sardan, J.-P.. 2002. Local Development Brokers in Africa: The rise of a new social category. Mainz: Johannes-Gutenberg University.Google Scholar
Boege, V., Brown, A., Clements, K. & Nolan, A.. 2008. On Hybrid Political Orders and Emerging States: state formation in the context of ‘Fragility’. Berlin: Berghof Foundation.Google Scholar
Boissevain, J. 1974. Friends of Friends: networks, manipulators and coalitions. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
Cramer, C. 2002. ‘Homo economicus goes to war: methodological individualism, rational choice and the political economy of war’, World Development 30, 11: 1845–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cuvelier, J. 2010. The Complexity of Resource Governance in a Context of State Fragility: the case of eastern DRC. Antwerp: International Peace Information Service.Google Scholar
Cuvelier, J., van Bockstael, S., Vlassenroot, K. & Iguma, C.W.. 2014. Analyzing the impact of the Dodd-Frank Act on Congolese livelihoods. New York, NY: Social Science Research Council.Google Scholar
De Villers, G. 2016. Histoire du Politique au Congo-Kinshasa: les concepts a l'epreuve. Louvain-la-Neuve: L'Harmattan.Google Scholar
Ellis, S. & MacGaffey, J.. 1996. ‘Research on sub-Saharan Africa's unrecorded international trade: some methodological and conceptual problems’, African Studies Review 39, 2: 1941.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Emirbayer, M. & Mische, A.. 1998. ‘What is agency?’, American Journal of Sociology 103, 4: 9621023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Englebert, P. & Tull, D.. 2013. ‘Contestation, négociation et résistance: l’état Congolais au quotidien’, Politique Africaine 129: 522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Geenen, S. 2011. ‘Relations and regulations in local gold trade networks in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo’, Journal of Eastern African Studies 5, 3: 427–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hagmann, T. & Péclard, D.. 2011. Negotiating Statehood. Dynamics of Power and Domination in Africa. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hart, K. 2008. Between bureaucracy and the people: a political history of informality. Copenhagen: Danish Institute for International Studies.Google Scholar
Hayes, K. 2010. PROMINES study. Artisanal mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Washington, DC: Pact, Inc.Google Scholar
Hoffmann, K., Vlassenroot, K. & Marchais, G.. 2016. ‘Taxation, stateness and armed groups: public authority and resource extraction in Eastern Congo’, Development and Change 47, 6: 1434–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Iguma, C.W. 2014. ‘Réguler un vieux jeu? Acteurs et défis à la réforme minière au Nord-Katanga (RDC)’, L'Afrique des Grand Lacs: Annuaire 2013–2014: 223–41.Google Scholar
Jackson, S. 2002. ‘Making a killing: criminality and coping in the Kivu war economy’, Review of African Political Economy 29, 93–94: 517–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jackson, S. 2006. ‘Sons of which soil? the language and politics of autochthony in Eastern DR Congo’, African Studies Review 49, 2: 95123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Johnson, D. 2013. No Kivu, no conflict? The misguided struggle against ‘conflict minerals’ in the DRC. Goma: Pole Institute.Google Scholar
Korf, B. 2006. ‘Cargo cult science, armchair empiricism and the idea of violent conflict’, Third World Quarterly 27, 3: 459–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Korf, B., Engeler, M. & Hagmann, T.. 2010. ‘The geography of warscape’, Third World Quarterly 31, 3: 385–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Koselleck, R. & Richter, M.. 2006. ‘Crisis’, Journal of the History of Ideas 67, 2: 357400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Landa, J. 1981. ‘A theory of the ethnically homogeneous middleman group: an institutional alternative to contract law’, Journal of Legal Studies 10, 2: 349–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Massey, D. 1991. ‘A global sense of place’, Marxism Today 38: 24–9.Google Scholar
Matthysen, K. & Zaragoza, A.. 2013. ‘Conflict minerals’ initiatives in DR Congo: perceptions of local mining communities. Antwerp: International Peace Information Service.Google Scholar
Mbembe, A. & Roitman, J.. 1995. ‘Figures of the subject in times of crisis’, Public Culture 7: 323–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Meagher, K. 2009. Culture, Agency and Power: theoretical reflections on informal economic networks and political process. Copenhagen: Danish Institute for International Studies.Google Scholar
Moore, S.F. 1973. ‘Law and social change: the semi-autonomous social field as an appropriate subject of study', Law and Society Review 7, 4: 719–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Muchukiwa, B. 2006. Territoires Éthniques et Territoires Étatiques: pouvoirs locaux et conflits inter-éthniques au Sud-Kivu (RD Congo). Paris: L'Harmattan.Google Scholar
Mueller-Koné, M. 2015. ‘Débrouillardise: certifying ‘conflict-free’ minerals in a context of regulatory pluralism in South Kivu, DR Congo’, Journal of Modern African Studies 53, 2: 145–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Musamba, J. & Vogel, C.. 2016. ‘Rapprochements ethnolinguistiques aux zones minières artisanales à l'est de la RD Congo’, L'Afrique des Grands Lacs: Annuaire 2015/2016: 207–31.Google Scholar
Ndaywel è Nziem, I. 2009. Nouvelle Histoire du Congo. Brussels: Editions Le Cri.Google Scholar
Observatoire Gouvernance et Paix (OGP). 2010. La Place des Ressources Minieres dans L'organisation Economique des Groupes Armés Nationaux et Étrangers. Bukavu: OGP.Google Scholar
Olivier de Sardan, J.-P. 2008. Researching the Practical Norms of Real Governance in Africa. London: Overseas Development Institute.Google Scholar
Panella, C. & Thomas, K.. 2015. ‘Ethics, evaluation, and economies of value, amidst illegal practices’, Critique of Anthropology 35, 1: 312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pottier, J. 2006. ‘Roadblock ethnography: negotiating humanitarian access in Ituri, eastern DR Congo, 1999–2004’, Africa 76, 2: 151–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Radley, B. & Vogel, C.. 2015. ‘Fighting windmills in eastern Congo? The ambiguous impact of the ‘conflict minerals’ movement’, The Extractive Industries and Society 2, 3: 406–10.Google Scholar
Raeymaekers, T. 2002. Network War: an introduction to Congo's privatised war economy. Antwerp: International Peace Information Service.Google Scholar
Raeymaekers, T. 2014. Violent Capitalism and Hybrid Identity in the Eastern Congo: power to the margins. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Raeymaekers, T., Menkhaus, K. & Vlassenroot, K.. 2008. ‘State and non-state regulation in African protracted crises: governance without government?’, Afrika Focus 21, 2: 721.Google Scholar
Reno, W. 1998. Warlord Politics and African States. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.Google Scholar
Ribot, J. & Peluso, N.. 2003. ‘A theory of access’, Rural Sociology 68, 2: 153–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Roitman, J. 1990. ‘The politics of informal markets in sub-Saharan Africa’, Journal of Modern African Studies 28, 4: 671–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Roitman, J. 2005. Fiscal Disobedience: an anthropology of economic regulation in Central Africa. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Roitman, J. 2016. ‘The stakes of crisis’, in Kjaer, X. & Olsen, X., eds. Critical Theories of Crisis in Europe. London: Rowman & Littlefield International, 1734.Google Scholar
Rubbers, B. 2007. ‘Retour sur le ‘secteur informel’. L’économie du Katanga (Congo-Zaïre) face à la falsification de la loi’, Sociologie du travail 49: 316–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sahlins, M. 1963. ‘Poor man, rich man, big-man, chief: political types in Melanesia and Polynesia’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 5, 3: 285303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Scott, J. 1972. ‘Patron-client politics and political change in Southeast Asia’, American Political Science Review 66, 1: 91113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sikor, T. & Lund, C.. 2009. The Politics of Possession: property, authority and access to natural resources. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
Smith, J. 2011. ‘Tantalus in the digital age: coltan ore, temporal dispossession, and ‘movement’ in the eastern Congo’, American Ethnologist 38, 1: 1735.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Smith, J. 2015. ‘‘May it never end’. Price wars, networks, and temporality in the ‘3Ts’ mining trade of the eastern DR Congo’, HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 5, 1: 134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stearns, J. 2011. Dancing in the glory of monsters: the collapse of the Congo and the Great African War. New York, NY: Public Affairs.Google Scholar
Stearns, J. 2012. North Kivu: the background to conflict in North Kivu province of eastern Congo. London: Rift Valley Institute.Google Scholar
Stearns, J. 2013. PARECO: land, local strongmen, and the roots of militia politics in North Kivu. London: Rift Valley Institute.Google Scholar
Stearns, J. & Vogel, C.. 2015. The Landscape of Armed Groups in the Eastern Congo. New York, NY: Congo Research Group, Center on International Cooperation of New York University.Google Scholar
Tréfon, T. 2004. Reinventing Order in the Congo: how people respond to state failure in Kinshasa. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
United Nations (UN). 2001. Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the DRC (S/2001/357). New York, NY: United Nations.Google Scholar
United Nations (UN). 2015. Final Report of the Group of Experts on the DRC (S/2015/19). New York, NY: United Nations.Google Scholar
Utas, M. 2012. African Conflicts and Informal Power: big men and networks. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
Verweijen, J. 2013. ‘Military business and the business of the military in the Kivus’, Review of African Political Economy 40, 135: 6782.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Verweijen, J. 2016. A Microcosm of Militarization: conflict, governance and armed mobilization in Uvira, South Kivu. London: Rift Valley Institute.Google Scholar
Vigh, H. 2008. ‘Crisis and chronicity: anthropological perspectives on continuous conflict and decline’, Ethnos 73, 1: 524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vigh, H. 2009. ‘Motion squared: a second look at the concept of social navigation’, Anthropological Theory 9, 4: 419–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vlassenroot, K. 2013. South Kivu: identity, territory, and power in the eastern Congo. London: Rift Valley Institute.Google Scholar
Vlassenroot, K. & Raeymaekers, T.. 2004. Conflict and Social Transformation in Eastern DR Congo. Gent: Academia Press.Google Scholar
Vogel, C. & Raeymaekers, T.. 2016. ‘Terr(it)or(ies) of peace: the Congolese mining frontier and the fight against ‘conflict minerals’’, Antipode 48, 4: 1102–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Watts, M. 2003. ‘Development and governmentality’, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 24, 1: 634.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
12
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Brokers of crisis: the everyday uncertainty of Eastern Congo's mineral négociants*
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Brokers of crisis: the everyday uncertainty of Eastern Congo's mineral négociants*
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Brokers of crisis: the everyday uncertainty of Eastern Congo's mineral négociants*
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *