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‘Mundele, it is because of you’ History, Identity and the Meaning of Democracy in the Congo*

  • Meike J. De Goede (a1)


Since the signing of the Sun City peace agreement in 2002, the Democratic Republic of Congo has strived to democratise with limited success. This paper explores some of the challenges of the process of democratisation in the Congo. It does so not by looking at democratisation policies and practices, but by focusing on identity construction and how these identities manifest themselves in Congolese engagements with the process of democratisation as a process that is pursued in partnership with Western donors. The paper traces the construction of an understanding of democracy as a means to make an end to perpetual victimisation of Congolese people due to foreign interference in the Congo. The paper argues that the concept of democracy has acquired over time a meaning that creates a highly ambivalent engagement with the current democratisation process, and in particular with Western donors of this process, which are simultaneously perceived as the main obstacles to its successful realisation.


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The author would like to thank Jan-Bart Gewald (Leiden University) and Jeffrey Murer (University of St Andrews) and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.



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