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Rebel rule: a governmentality perspective

Hoffman, Kasper and Verweijen, Judith (2018) Rebel rule: a governmentality perspective. African Affairs. ISSN 0001-9909

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Identification Number: 10.1093/afraf/ady039


Much of the recent literature on rebel governance and violent political orders works with ‘centred’ and instrumental understandings of power. In this view, power is seen as exercised over subjects, and as situated in rebel rulers, governance institutions, or ruling networks. Drawing on the study of the armed groups known as ‘Mai-Mai’ in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, this article instead adopts a governmentality perspective on rebel governance. It demonstrates how Mai-Mai groups rule not only through direct imposition but also, more subtly, by shaping people’s subjectivities and self-conduct. We identify four clusters of techniques of Mai-Mai rule that relate respectively to ethnicity and custom; spirituality; ‘stateness’; and patronage and protection. We argue that a governmentality perspective, with its focus on rationalities and practices of power, offers a fine-grained understanding of rebel rule that moves beyond common binaries such as coercion versus freedom. By showing its relevance for the analysis of rebel rule in the eastern Congo, our findings further strengthen the case for applying a governmentality perspective to non-Western political orders

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2018 The Authors
Divisions: Justice and Security Research Programme
Subjects: J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
D History General and Old World > DT Africa
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2019 12:06
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 03:25

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