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Home is where the heart is: identity, return, and the Toleka bicycle taxi union in Congo’s equateur

Carayannis, Tatiana and Pangburn, Aaron (2020) Home is where the heart is: identity, return, and the Toleka bicycle taxi union in Congo’s equateur. Journal of Refugee Studies. ISSN 0951-6328

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Since the end of the 2006 post-war transition, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the international community have struggled to design, finance and implement a host of national and regional disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programmes. The weak capacity of implementing institutions, widespread corruption, funding gaps, Western-driven processes and a misdiagnosis of local needs have all been raised as core reasons behind failures. Little is known about how processes of ex-combatant return shape and reshape public authority, where former combatants return to, how they negotiate and experience ‘return’ and how viable ways of life are successfully constituted post return. While many ex-combatants in the DRC continue to be re-recruited into militia groups, one group that has reintegrated successfully is the Toleka—a several-thousand-strong group of ex-combatants who returned (or remained) in the provincial capital of Mbandaka (Equateur province). The Toleka formed a bicycle-taxi organization and unionized its membership, providing protections and collective-bargaining authority to the group, while providing a public good. It also helped to reshape identities, produce a sense of civilian solidarity and provide a bridging function from life in the military. This article looks at how this organization was formed, how the former fighters identified and capitalized on a local need and the conditions that allowed them to successfully unionize and protect their rights as they re-entered civilian life. Based on extensive fieldwork and interviews, this article seeks to understand a case of ‘successful’ return in a region with few such successes.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Authors
Divisions: ?? CPAID ??
Centre for Public Authority and International Development
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2019 14:57
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2024 20:03

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