Within and without the state: presentation at the European Conference on African Studies
At the sixth European Conference on African Studies held in Paris from 8-10 July 2015, DLP research fellow Suda Perera presented a paper examining the complex links between the state and armed groups in the eastern DRC.
This year’s ECAS theme was Collective Mobilisations in Africa: Contestation, Resistance, Revolt. The aim of the conference was to consider the diverse range of issues, from the cost of living through to many forms of religious revival, that have roused people across the continent to collective action in recent times. The premise of the theme was that profound political reconfiguration seems to be underway in Africa, pushing new actors to front of stage. The conference panels were asked to consider the modes of transgression and subversion being used by various individuals and groups, and how they intersect with social, generational and gender statuses.
Suda took part in a panel discussion on Armed political movements and their civil administration: Legitimacy, statehood and war-to-peace. Her paper, ‘Within and without the state: Armed group-state relations in the eastern DRC’, drew on her current research which looks closely at the DRC's Kivu regions, beset by protracted conflict, political exclusion and weak state legitimacy.
While the human cost of this instability has been high, it has become clear that in some circumstances the region’s armed groups 'do' many of the jobs of state and provide protection, services and representation to certain marginalised and excluded populations. One of the questions Suda’s research asks is how such groups might become legitimate political actors that expand citizens' representation.