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Open Access The Disconcerting Popularity of Popular In/justice in the Fizi/Uvira Region, Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

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The Disconcerting Popularity of Popular In/justice in the Fizi/Uvira Region, Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

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This article analyses the disconcerting phenomenon of ‘popular in/justice’, or killings of citizens enacted by other citizens ‘in the name of justice’. It studies these practices in the Fizi/Uvira region in the conflict-ridden eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where they target either suspected criminals or presumed sorcerers. The article locates the causes for this phenomenon in certain transformations of socio-political space, notably the unsettling of customary and politico-administrative authority, dysfunctional state-led justice and security services, and the militarisation of local governance. These developments have compounded dispute processing and handling the occult, leading these processes to often turn violent. They also incentivise and enable politically and socio-economically marginalised yet demographically numerous groups to assert socio-political agency and engage in order-making. The article concludes by arguing that popular in/justice should be seen as an expression of such aspirations to exercise efficacious socio-political agency, thereby constituting a perverse form of democratisation.

Affiliations: 1: Researcher, Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala and Conflict Research Group, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium, judith.verweijen@ugent.be

10.1163/15718115-02203003
/content/journals/10.1163/15718115-02203003
dcterms_title,pub_keyword,dcterms_description,pub_author
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This article analyses the disconcerting phenomenon of ‘popular in/justice’, or killings of citizens enacted by other citizens ‘in the name of justice’. It studies these practices in the Fizi/Uvira region in the conflict-ridden eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where they target either suspected criminals or presumed sorcerers. The article locates the causes for this phenomenon in certain transformations of socio-political space, notably the unsettling of customary and politico-administrative authority, dysfunctional state-led justice and security services, and the militarisation of local governance. These developments have compounded dispute processing and handling the occult, leading these processes to often turn violent. They also incentivise and enable politically and socio-economically marginalised yet demographically numerous groups to assert socio-political agency and engage in order-making. The article concludes by arguing that popular in/justice should be seen as an expression of such aspirations to exercise efficacious socio-political agency, thereby constituting a perverse form of democratisation.

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/content/journals/10.1163/15718115-02203003
2015-07-17
2017-12-13

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