Regimes of Responsibility in Africa: Genealogies, Rationalities and Conflicts 9781789203608

Regimes of Responsibility in Africa ­analyses the transformations that discourses and practices of responsibility have u

189 41 5MB

English Pages 256 Year 2019

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

Regimes of Responsibility in Africa: Genealogies, Rationalities and Conflicts

Table of contents :
List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Introduction Regimes of Responsibility in Africa: Towards a New Theoretical Approach
Chapter 1 Historical Regimes of Responsibility in ‘the Politics of the Belly’
Chapter 2 The Use(fulness) of Discourses of ‘Responsibility’ on the DRC’s ‘Sovereign Frontier’
Chapter 3 High Officials’ Responsibility and State Accountability in the Age of Neoliberal Discharge: Views from Mozambique
Chapter 4 Reproduction, Responsibility and Citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire
Chapter 5 Human Care or Human Capital? Corporate Responsibility and HIV Management at South Africa’s Mines
Chapter 6 What Are People with Disabilities Responsible For? The Study of Political, Social and Family Responsibilities in the Context of Locomotor Disability (Cape Flats, South Africa)
Chapter 7 Diverting Makila Mabe: Understanding Responsibility in Kinshasa’s Pentecostal Worlds
Chapter 8 The (Ir)Responsible Witch: Ambiguities among the Maka of Southeast Cameroon
Chapter 9 The ‘Return of Culture’: Spiritual Threats, Asylum Policies and the Responsibility of Anthropological Knowledge

Citation preview

Regimes of Responsibility in Africa

Regimes of Responsibility in Africa Genealogies, Rationalities and Conflicts

Edited by Benjamin Rubbers and Alessandro Jedlowski

berghahn NEW YORK • OXFORD

First published in 2020 by Berghahn Books © 2020 Benjamin Rubbers and Alessandro Jedlowski All rights reserved. Except for the quotation of short passages for the purposes of criticism and review, no part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without written permission of the publisher. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Rubbers, Benjamin, editor. | Jedlowski, Alessandro, editor. Title: Regimes of responsibility in Africa : genealogies, rationalities and conflicts / edited by Benjamin Rubbers and Alessandro Jedlowski. Description: New York : Berghahn Books, 2020 | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2019030413 (print) | LCCN 2019030414 (ebook) | ISBN 9781789203592 (hardback) | ISBN 9781789203608 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Responsibility--Africa. | Responsibility--Social aspects--Africa. | Ethics--Africa. | Africa--Social conditions--21st century. Classification: LCC BJ1451 .R44 2019 (print) | LCC BJ1451 (ebook) | DDC 170--dc23 LC record available at hcps:// LC ebook record available at hcps:// British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 978-1-78920-359-2 hardback ISBN 978-1-78920-360-8 ebook


List of Illustrations


List of Abbreviations


Introduction Regimes of Responsibility in Africa: Towards a New Theoretical Approach Benjamin Rubbers and Alessandro Jedlowski Chapter 1 Historical Regimes of Responsibility in ‘the Politics of the Belly’ Jean-François Bayart Chapter 2 The Use(fulness) of Discourses of ‘Responsibility’ on the DRC’s ‘Sovereign Frontier’ Stylianos Moshonas Chapter 3 High Officials’ Responsibility and State Accountability in the Age of Neoliberal Discharge: Views from Mozambique Rozenn Nakanabo Diallo Chapter 4 Reproduction, Responsibility and Citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire Giulia Almagioni and Armando Cutolo








Chapter 5 Human Care or Human Capital? Corporate Responsibility and HIV Management at South Africa’s Mines Dinah Rajak Chapter 6 What Are People with Disabilities Responsible For? The Study of Political, Social and Family Responsibilities in the Context of Locomotor Disability (Cape Flats, South Africa) Marie Schnitzler



Chapter 7 Diverting Makila Mabe: Understanding Responsibility in Kinshasa’s Pentecostal Worlds 160 Katrien Pype Chapter 8 The (Ir)Responsible Witch: Ambiguities among the Maka of Southeast Cameroon Peter Geschiere Chapter 9 The ‘Return of Culture’: Spiritual Threats, Asylum Policies and the Responsibility of Anthropological Knowledge Roberto Beneduce Index


199 233


Figures Figure 4.1. ‘How to avoid this misery? A solution: plan your family for the health of mother and child’. Figure 4.2. ‘How to get this joy of living? One solution: plan your family’.

86 87

Table Table 3.1. M’s diagram.




Agence Française de Développement Association Ivoirenne pour le Bien-Être Familial National Administration for Conservation Areas African National Congress Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb Black Economic Empowerment Economic and Social Council Comité International d’Accompagnement à la Transition Department for International Development National Directorate for Conservation Areas Democratic Republic of Congo United Nations Economic and Social Council Food and Agriculture Organization The Mozambique Liberation Front International Conference on Population and Development Fondation Internationale pour la Gestion de la Faune International Monetary Fund National Institute of Social Security Movimento Democratico de Moçambique Ministry of Tourism United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo National Union of Mines Responsibility to Protect The Mozambican National Resistance




Southern African Development Community South African Social Security Agency United Nations Development Programme United Nations Fund for Population Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees United States Agency for International Development World Health Organization


Regimes of Responsibility in Africa Towards a New Theoretical Approach Benjamin Rubbers and Alessandro Jedlowski


his edited collection of essays analyses the transformations that discourses and practices of responsibility have undergone in Africa since the early 1990s. This period has been marked – among other things – by the return of electoral politics, the eruption of violent conflicts, the introduction of neoliberal reforms and increased foreign investment, the multiplication of religious movements, the exponential growth of migration fluxes, the emergence of new media, and the explosion of the AIDS pandemic. The core assumption of this book is that, even though they have not affected the continent’s different countries in the same way, these changes have contributed to multiplying discourses around responsibility, which have transformed the way in which it is imagined, discussed and organized in African societies. The concept of responsibility has indeed become one of the key moral ideas through which these societies think about, and act upon, their present and future configurations. To discuss this central hypothesis, the book’s contributions examine the discourses and practices of responsibility in nine different settings, and they reflect on the broader changes in the regimes of responsibility in which they take part. In each chapter, these changes are studied from at least one of the following angles: (a) The manner in which responsibility is enacted and conceptualized by different institutions (such as international organizations, Pentecostal churches or multinational corporations) or categories of actors (such as witch doctors, government officials or researchers)


Benjamin Rubbers and Alessandro Jedlowski

(b) The mechanisms through which responsibility is generated, imputed or claimed by institutional and non-institutional actors (such as divination, judicial hearing or development programmes) (c) The links manifested between practices and discourses of responsibility, and the different (shorter and longer) durations in which they are entangled. The book’s overall objective is to study the economic, political and social changes that have taken place in Africa over the past three decades through the lens of the concept of responsibility. By testing the relevance of this concept in different African contexts, this collection of essays makes it possible to better understand the interweaving of moral practices and discourses in the transformations that the continent is undergoing. At the same time, it offers the opportunity to bring the existing scholarship on responsibility – which is based on the history of Western Europe and Northern America – into dialogue with African case studies and theoretical perspectives, in order to question the significance of the neoliberal moment in this continent, as well as the relevance and status of anthropological and sociological research on these issues. In the rest of this introduction, we return to the literature on responsibility in order to lay the ground for our analytical approach, which allows us to study the practices and discourses of responsibility in a concrete way. At the same time, we will highlight the interest of studying responsibility ‘from’ Africa and we will provide some insights into the reasons for the recent proliferation of responsibility discourses throughout the continent.

New Directions in the Study of Responsibility Developing a theoretical framework for the analysis of responsibility is a difficult task because this concept covers a very broad semantic field: it can concern our actions, those of others of whom we are in charge, or of the goods of which we have custody. Responsibility can be oriented towards the past or the future; and it is part of the relationships that give rise to the expression of different expectations or normative requirements. As a result of its polysemic dimensions, the concept of responsibility has nourished traditions of thought that do not communicate easily with one another. The scholar who examines the literature on the subject quickly understands that authors do not exactly talk about the same thing: some deal with responsibility for our past actions; others with the



responsibility we have towards our loved ones; still others, about the responsibility of states and companies for their citizens and employees. To better organize the analysis of responsibility, it is useful to return briefly to the semantic history of the concept. Following Paul Ricoeur (1994), we may consider that the meaning of the concept has gradually expanded from its relatively precise original legal core. Derived from the Latin word respondere, the term originally implied a person’s obligation to answer for his/her actions and for those over whom s/he has custody. This refers to the requirement to impute a specific damage to a person, and to put her/him under the obligation to make reparations for it (civil law) or to suffer a penalty as a result of it (criminal law). From the end of the eighteenth century, the meaning of the concept rapidly spread to the political domain and it acquired a new, broader meaning. In this context, responsibility was no longer considered only as a process of imputation ex-post, but as a mandate that gave political leaders the power to make decisions on behalf of the constituencies that they represent, while making them accountable for the consequences of such decisions. In this second sense, the concept of responsibility is very close to that of accountability. It is associated with trust, freedom, control and evaluation. From the nineteenth century, but especially in the twentieth century, the meaning of the concept of responsibility further expanded to stand for an ordinary ethical judgment that is central in the relationship that human beings have with themselves and others. The use of the term thus moved beyond the domains of justice (the imputation of damage) and politics (a mandate that makes someone accountable) to which it had been initially confined, to embrace a wider range of social relations, spanning from the very concrete circle of close relatives to the whole of humanity, and even to future generations. The semantic evolution of the concept reflects the institutional and political transformations that have marked the West’s history in recent centuries – in particular, the secularization of justice, the extension of electoral democracy and the development of the insurance system (Mc Keon 1957; see also Ricoeur 1994). It also echoes the way in which thinking about responsibility has developed in philosophy. At first confined to legal thought, and centred on the problem of fault imputation, the concept has taken on a new meaning in social contract theories, which take it as a starting point from which to think about the limits of government. Finally, the understanding of responsibility as being part of everyday ethics can be associated with more recent essays in moral philosophy such as those of Emmanuel Levinas (1981), Charles Taylor (1976) and Bernard Williams (2008 [1994]).


Benjamin Rubbers and Alessandro Jedlowski

This turn towards the analysis of ordinary ethical practices echoes the one that took place in anthropology through the 2000s (Lambek 2000, 2010; Faubion 2001, 2011; Laidlaw 2002, 2013; Zigon 2008; Fassin 2012). Drawing inspiration from the work of Aristotle, Friedrich Nietzsche, and, more distinctively, Michel Foucault, these authors proposed moving beyond the old anthropology of morality, which tended to reduce the ethical field to the respect (or lack of respect) of rules of conduct, to open a new field of enquiry on ethics as practices of freedom through which human beings constitute themselves as moral subjects in their relationship to others. However, this anthropological scholarship studies ethical practices (conceived as techniques of the self) in their general manifestations. With the exception of James Laidlaw (2013), that we will briefly introduce below, it pays relatively little attention to the notion of responsibility and is thus of limited relevance for the argument that this collection intends to develop.1 In recent philosophical studies, the moral meaning of the concept of responsibility is often contrasted with its more traditional use in the judiciary tradition: the first (i.e. to care for) is forward-looking, positive and rooted in the relationship(s) with others, while the second (i.e. to be guilty of) is retrospective, negative and focused on the subject and its actions (Ricoeur 2003). As part of this book’s aim to develop an overarching theoretical framework for the analysis of responsibility, however, it is preferable not to oppose the different meanings that the concept has acquired throughout its history: fault, trust, freedom, virtue, control and sanction.2 Rather, we suggest studying how the practices and discourses of responsibility play with these different meanings – how they place them in different configurations of power, horizons of expectations and temporal orientations – and how they relate to each other. In social sciences, the first attempt to formulate an anthropological theory of responsibility can be traced back to one of Émile Durkheim’s students, Paul Fauconnet, and his book, La responsabilité: étude de sociologie, published in 1928. In this book, Fauconnet proposes that responsibility ought to be studied as a ‘social fact’, thereby distancing himself from previous studies in philosophy and law, that considered responsibility an ‘idea’ to be analysed in abstract terms, drawing inspiration from the Western tradition of thought (see Lévy-Bruhl 1884). Fauconnet, on the contrary, considers responsibility as the product of a judgment that is based on a series of moral and legal rules that are shared within a specific society in order to punish an individual for committing a crime. By analysing the process through which a specific sanction is produced, the researcher can empirically observe the dynamics by which responsibility is defined, and then compare them to those of other societies.



On the basis of this comparative study of responsibility, Fauconnet shows that the responsibility for a specific act or event may be allocated to a variety of actors, including human beings, the dead, animals, things, collectives, children, or even madmen. In this sense, if responsibility is often directly connected to principles of causality, intentionality, or psychic capability, it cannot simply be reduced to them, and it needs to be analysed on its own terms. As the result of collective emotions and representations, responsibility, in Fauconnet’s understanding, becomes a symbol that stands for a specific crime, and provides a target for the application of a moral or legal sanction. Responsibility thus produces a particular kind of emotional and cognitive transfer, which has as its main function that of liberating a society from what its members consider a ‘crime’. Following Fauconnet, numerous social scientists developed similar approaches and considered responsibility as a process of moral imputation (Gluckman 1972; Chateauraynaud 1991; Williams 1993; Laidlaw 2013: chap. 5). This is essentially a forensic approach to the study of responsibility that analyses the discourses and practices of accusation that are related to (real or imagined) past wrongdoings. This approach focuses on the study of the institutions that produce responsibility, the techniques that they adopt in order to do so, and the emotions, values, or ethical judgments underlying them. A recent example is Laidlaw (2013), who proposes to study how people attribute responsibility for the damages they have suffered in everyday life. Drawing on Williams (2008 [1994]), he suggests that four factors are taken into consideration in this process of moral imputation: the cause, the intention, the psychic state, and the capacity to respond. Although he does not cite Fauconnet, he follows him in considering that the crucial factor is neither the cause, nor the intention, but the capacity to respond – that is, to be punished, or to compensate for the damage. In contrast to Durkheim’s student, however, the allocation of responsibility is for Laidlaw a complex ethical process, which can in no simple way be reduced to the application of the moral rules shared by the entire community. He thus calls attention to the variety of techniques that produce and distribute responsibility in human societies, from Zande divination to statistical reasoning. Far from the confusion that often surrounds the use of the concept of responsibility, this type of approach gives this concept a precise, unequivocal meaning, and proposes a method to study it, which consists of analysing the mechanisms through which responsibility is allocated. It allows us to take into account the way in which responsibility is conceived in different societies and thus to escape from the ethnocentrism that is implicit in many reflections about responsibility in the West, which tend to implicitly refer to


Benjamin Rubbers and Alessandro Jedlowski

the responsibilities of adult human beings in full control of their mental and moral capacities. At the same time, by omitting the other meanings of the concept of responsibility, this forensic approach seems to unnecessarily limit the scope of analysis. It tends to neglect the way in which responsibility is used in specific relations of power and domination, the way in which it is acted out (claimed, demanded, recalled or challenged) as a (positive) moral virtue in everyday practices and interactions, and the way in which it is oriented, not only to the past, but also to the future (Guyer 2014). Taking Foucault’s work as a starting point, another tradition of research in the social sciences considers responsibility as a technique of government that is grounded in liberal thought (Ewald 1986; Rose 1996; Shamir 2008; Shore 2008). For François Ewald, individual responsibility is the key principle of nineteenth-century liberal thought, a principle that suggests that every individual has to take care of her/his own existence. In Ewald’s view, liberalism does not refuse assistance to the poor, but views such assistance as a moral duty that is grounded on charity, rather than being a legal obligation: the poor are thus deemed responsible for their own destiny and they have no right to assistance. The welfare state, which emerged at the end of the nineteenth century, resulted from a completely different political rationality, one based on the calculation of probability, social insurance, and collective rights. Within this framework, the social management of work accidents, job losses, or workers’ aging is no longer based on individual responsibility and charity, but on the calculation of potential risks and on their collective coverage, according to legal rules.3 For several authors (Rose 1999, 2001; Shamir 2008; Shore 2008, 2017), responsibility is today being reasserted in a new guise, as a key principle of government – a government that uses the ethics of responsibility as a medium to engender a society founded on entrepreneurialism, competition and autonomy. This ‘responsibilization’ of individuals, organisations and communities is encouraged through the development of various governmental techniques (such as audits or participative management) and techniques of the self (such as career coaching or personal development training). According to Ronen Shamir (2008), such techniques tend to blur the distinction between the ‘market’ and ‘society’ as they lead simultaneously to a moralization of the market – market players are driven to becoming socially responsible – and to a commoditization of morality – the moral domain is increasingly comprehended in the context of a cost–benefit analysis. Instead of making responsibility the product of a judgment that can be found in different forms in all human societies, this literature proposes to include the analysis of responsibility in the history of the development



of liberal governmentality. In so doing, it calls for a more historical and political approach, one that broadens the analysis to include the different power techniques that generate responsibility independently of the imputation procedures, in order to consider how responsibility may work as a regime of truth, discipline and subjectivity. It is in this sense that we intend to resort to the concept of the regime of responsibility. Taken as a heuristic tool, this concept aims to grasp what it is that responsibility, as an apparatus of power, does. At the same time, by not fully taking into consideration the extent to which subjects appropriate, transform and resist government policies, Foucault-inspired work on responsibility tends to overestimate the influence of neoliberal government strategies. In our opinion, the problem lies in the fact that these works narrow down the issue of responsibility to the analysis of the power techniques linked to (neo)liberal governmentality. As a result, they tend to neglect the diversity of the practices and discourses of responsibility with which these power techniques are interlocked: those related to family ethics, citizenship or religion as well as those that underlie ordinary social relationships between parents, friends or colleagues. The analysis of contemporary regimes of responsibility should therefore be extended in order to better grasp the plurality of existing ethics of responsibility, their reciprocal relations, and the way in which individuals deal with them (Trnka and Trundle 2017). Here, we come to the second, broader meaning that we would like to give to the concept of the regime of responsibility. It is intended to identify the different registers through which responsibility is expressed – including those that are silenced by the neoliberal discourse of responsibility – and to highlight their possible interactions: conflicts, alignments, or the compromises that can develop among them. A regime of responsibility thus presents itself as a particular historical configuration of practices and discourses structured by one or more apparatuses (dispositifs) of power, but which, at the same time, outgrow these same apparatuses in multiple and unpredictable ways. The analysis of regimes of responsibility thus allows us to go beyond the narrow conception of the individual that is implicit in neoliberal governmentality in order to give serious consideration to the processes by which the practices and discourses of responsibility create their ‘own distinctive kinds of interconnectedness’ (Laidlaw 2013: 201). The concept of a regime of responsibility can be briefly illustrated by coming back to the paternalistic policy that Union minière put in place in the Congolese copperbelt in the colonial period. In a nutshell, this policy has consisted in building mining camps to take in charge, and at the same time, control, every details of workers’ life. Far from only resulting from the company’s labour requirements, its development over the colonial


Benjamin Rubbers and Alessandro Jedlowski

period was also a response to pressures from the colonial administration, and to workers’ demands for better living conditions. It also involved the participation of various professional bodies (such as missionaries, social workers or doctors) with their own standards and sense of duty. One can identify here the formation of a regime of responsibility: as a form of corporate social responsibility, Union minière’s industrial paternalism was closely associated with the emergence of new responsibilities for the colonial government (to ‘develop’ the colony), the various experts it employed (to meet professional standards) and its own workers (to raise a ‘modern’ family). The aim of this power apparatus was to transform workers into entirely new subjects, responsible for themselves (their health, their work, their moral conduct, their future), and for their wives and children. But that is not all. As Benjamin Rubbers (2013) shows elsewhere, this paternalistic policy – which was continued in a different format by Gécamines into the 1980s – had a profound influence on how workers came to see themselves as men, husbands, fathers, relatives, or citizens. Today, to be responsible (‘être un responsable’) remains a very strong normative expectation for adult persons, especially men, and what is understood by this is very close to what colonial moral entrepreneurs had in mind (see also Pype, this volume). However, workers’ subjectivities, and the forms of responsibility that were attached to them, cannot be reduced to mere effects of paternalism. This is because workers’ social and cultural life was never completely controlled by the company’s power apparatus. Even in the colonial period, workers could develop various types of social ties both inside and outside company camps (for example with women or relatives) that involved ethics of responsibility irreducible to the type of responsible subject envisioned by the company. At first sight, the foreign companies who have participated to the boom of mining investments in the Congolese copperbelt since the early 2000s have broken with the industrial paternalism of Union minière and Gécamines. Following Dinah Rajak (2011; this volume), it is however possible to make the hypothesis that their labour policy has not so much broken with industrial paternalism, as given it a new direction.4 There are several possible reasons for this. First, these companies must comply with the Congolese labour law, which has remained almost unchanged since the colonial period. Secondly, they operate in areas where the state plays a marginal role in the deliverance of social services. Hence, they are expected to take up this role, in accordance with the principle of ‘discharge’ that has prevailed in central Africa since the colonial conquest. Finally, the paternalism of Union minière and Gécamines continues to serve as a reference to which the labour policy implemented by new



mining companies is compared. From this point of view, these companies are expected to provide stable jobs, to support workers’ families, and to deliver public services for the community. In other words, the conditions with which new mining investors are confronted in Congo are not completely different from those that allowed for the development of industrial paternalism in the twentieth century. Hence the challenge is to understand how these investors adapt their managerial models to the constraints that they face in Congo and how, in so doing, they reinvent the tradition of industrial paternalism, and contribute to the emergence of new regimes of responsibility. As this example suggests, the presumed inflation of responsibility discourses in Africa that was mentioned earlier in this introduction cannot be understood as the mere result of neoliberal policies of ‘responsibilization’ (such as corporate social responsibility, good governance or microcredit programmes). It is also the consequence of what Georges Balandier (1971) called ‘dynamics from inside’ the African continent: the deterioration in the living conditions of a large number of African people, which has increasingly obliged them to act in response to the pressing needs of their families and the responsibility to satisfy them; the liberalization of political life and media development, which has given rise to new forms of political participation, and to scandals questioning the accountability of governments and corporations; and the intensification of African interactions with the rest of the world (for example through migrations, religious movements or trade networks), which has given rise to the expression of new expectations of responsibility. These processes carry different discourses that do not play on the same register, but which make the concept of responsibility a privileged tool for the many actors who are involved in ongoing attempts to change the balance of power across the continent. In African studies, the issue of responsibility is implicitly discussed in numerous works that focus on topics as diverse as the colonial past, contemporary armed conflicts and social interpretations of disease and misfortune. By focusing on such a diverse set of phenomena, these works highlight the variety of social relationships through which the discourses and practices of responsibility take shape and transform over time. They rarely, however, have responsibility as their main object of analysis. The researches on witchcraft, to begin with Edward Evans-Pritchard’s classical ethnography (1937), provided particularly relevant observations for developing an anthropological analysis of responsibility as an imputation process (Gluckman 1972; Douglas 1992; Laidlaw 2010, 2013). The literature on African politics has also highlighted the plurality of responsibilities that leaders must meet. Emphasis has been placed on the


Benjamin Rubbers and Alessandro Jedlowski

opposition between their legal obligations, as representatives of the state, and their redistributive obligations in patronage networks, as ‘big men’ (Medard 1992; Bayart 1993; Daloz and Chabal 1999). More recently, in an article on forestry officials in Senegal, Giorgio Blundo (2011) proposed going beyond this opposition by addressing the way in which these state representatives navigate among the various forms of accountability (such as bureaucratic, representative, corporatist or nepotistic accountability). As these examples suggest, Africa offers us a particularly fertile ground from which to analyse ongoing transformations in the practices and discourses of responsibility. Wage labour has remained marginal, and social protection weakly institutionalized, in most African countries. In these conditions, the ways in which most African citizens live are largely conditioned by the relations of dependency that they are able to mobilize and instrumentalize (Berry 1989; Ferguson 2015). This situation stresses the need to decentre the Foucauldian focus on the ‘social’, which is built on the analysis of western countries’ experience, to give closer consideration to the ways in which discourses and practices of responsibility take shape in the everyday experiences of African people. This is best achieved through analysis of the relationships in which they engage, the movements they join, and the ways in which they imagine their present predicament in terms of their relationships to both the past and the future. As John Lonsdale (1986) shows, the complex networks of economic and political dependency that link African countries to the rest of the world have made responsibility a central political issue, as both rulers and subjects attempted to define the term in various ways throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: ‘one of the moving forces in history, as in contemporary politics’, he argues, ‘is the constant dialectic between the claims of rulers to be responsible and the critical attempts of the governed, or of some of them, to hold rulers to account’ (1986: 130). As we suggested above, this is a problem that has acquired a new importance with the transnational processes that have marked the continent in the course of the last three decades, be it the World Bank’s programmes of good governance, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes of mining investors, or the flows of money that migrants send to their families.

The Spaces and Times of African Regimes of Responsibility This book exemplifies the formulation of the concept of regimes of responsibility sketched above through a number of case studies from different



regions of the continent (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo). The case studies are framed by both an introductory and a conclusive chapter which focus, respectively, on the historical dimensions of regimes of responsibility in Africa (Bayart), and on the often taken-for-granted issue of the researcher’s own responsibility vis-à-vis the knowledge s/he produces about the continent. This is an issue that the recent increase in migration fluxes toward Europe, and the anthropologists’ new role as legal consultants called in to evaluate the ‘cultural plausibility’ of asylum seekers’ life stories, has made somehow more urgent for European Africanist scholars (Beneduce). The introductory essay by Jean-François Bayart takes on from Londsdale’s preoccupation with the transformations of political accountability in African history that is cited above and demonstrate how regimes of responsibility in today’s Africa can be better understood by applying a Braudelian perspective that brings to light the imbrication of the long, medium and short durées of precolonial, colonial and postcolonial African societies. As Bayart emphasizes, a society is constituted by a multiplicity of space–time dimensions that underlie different, and sometimes contradictory, moral economies, as, for instance is shown by the frictions between the different regimes of responsibility that apply to corporations, religious institutions, civil society, the State, or the family, in a specific historical moment, for example, in post-Structural Adjustment Africa. Then, it is only by producing a detailed comparative analysis of the historicity of conflicting regimes of responsibility across Africa that we can prepare the ground for a more specific, circumscribed investigation. In Bayart’s words (in this volume), it is the lack of an understanding of these historical configurations ‘that leads people to imprison African societies in evolutionist and culturalist clichés, with a certain condescension as to the alleged irresponsibility and greed of its leaders. The continent suffers from too much responsibility, rather than from a lack of it’. This thesis constitutes the starting point for the following chapters, which attempt to disentangle the complex historical and geographical landscape that is portrayed in Bayart’s contribution through an analysis of a number of specific space–time settings. In the second chapter, Stylianos Moshonas proposes studying the processes of the historical ‘co-production’ of African regimes of responsibility in relation to DRC post-war politics. In particular, Moshonas’s chapter focuses on the practice of invoking ‘responsibility’ in the relations between the DRC’s political elite and the country’s external partners. Focusing on the transitional period between 2003 and 2006, which paved the way for the presidency’s consolidation of power, the chapter analyses how, since 2001, the issue of ‘responsibility’


Benjamin Rubbers and Alessandro Jedlowski

has been thrown back and forth between the government and donors. Indeed, among the latter, responsibility vis-à-vis the effectiveness of their programmes tends to be eschewed, and the core responsibilities of the state are highlighted. Equally, a similar discourse is at play among governmental actors, who alternate between the defensive invocation of state sovereignty and the offensive denunciation of donor responsibility and their inability to respect their engagements. This complex game has created a situation in which the discourses of responsibility are deployed in a strategic manner, thus leading to cyclical processes in the discharge of one actor’s responsibilities over the other, and these are dictated by the changing fortunes of the country’s economic and political situations. If Moshonas’s analysis focuses mainly on the discursive dimension of responsibility, Rozenn Nakanabo Diallo’s chapter brings us closer to the life trajectories of those individuals who happen to occupy an intermediate position between African governments and international donors, in her case, Mozambican high officials working in foreign-funded programmes in the conservation sector. National parks in Mozambique are managed within the frame of public–private partnerships, and special units funded by donors are created within central ministries to conduct specific policies. The high officials whose experience Nakanabo Diallo analyses find themselves in an ambiguous, in-between space whose existence points to the intricate, overlapping nature of regimes of responsibility in today’s Africa. Indeed, for whom do these people actually and ultimately work? While they are either partly or entirely paid by international organisations, Nakanabo Diallo argues that their ultimate loyalty rests with the State, whose responsibility is, paradoxically, renewed and even reinforced by such dynamics. Armando Cutolo and Giulia Almagioni’s contribution moves the focus to the more intimate sphere of the family, and looks at how international organizations’ discourses and policies have shaped recent transformations in the conception of responsibility and family care in Sub-Saharan Africa, and particularly in Côte d’Ivoire. Since the Cairo Conference of the United Nations’ Population Fund in 1994, population policies have witnessed an important shift. Downplaying their former focus on the urgent reduction of fertility, new demographic discourses have started to address the role of individual responsibility in the promotion of the health and the well-being of both children and mothers. A new concept of ‘reproductive health’ was formulated, connecting procreation to individual choice and the care of the offspring, of the female body and of the self, and hence with new forms of social citizenship. The discourse on reproductive health in Côte d’Ivoire was sponsored by governmental and nongovernmental organisations which actively engaged the audience with



images of a new ‘modern family’, promoting women’s empowerment and stimulating new forms of moral subjectivation in the private sphere. This discourse promoted the endorsement of new individual and social responsibilities in the domain of reproduction. However, as Cutolo and Almagioni demonstrate, in the same years, this discourse was implicitly adopted and reversed within the ‘ivoirité’ ethno-nationalist ideology, in order to target the ‘irresponsible’, ‘traditional’, ‘backward’ reproductive behaviour of those northern ‘strangers’ whose number, according to the 1998 census, had grown to the point of reaching nearly a third of the country’s population. Here, we observe how responsibility discourses and practices that are introduced by international actors and respond to neoliberal principles of governmentality, are reframed and reformulated locally in order to accommodate some specific political factions over others in the context of an intense struggle over the control of the country’s economy, territory and population. Health and family care policies are also the focus of Dinah Rajak’s contribution, which analyses these issues through the prism of corporate programmes for HIV prevention in South Africa. Rajak centres her attention on the corporate HIV programmes that are enforced by one of the largest mining companies in the world, Anglo American, and reveals the impact they have on relations between employer and employee. The dispensation of corporate care creates connections between the personal realm of sexual conduct and family life, and the political economy of global corporate capitalism. Within this context, corporate social responsibility becomes a mechanism through which the company consolidates its authority over its workforce, conflating the exigencies of human care with the interests of capital. Through analysis of the historical transformation of Anglo American programmes throughout the early 2000s, Rajak’s analysis thus demonstrates ‘the violence of corporate responsibility as an instrument of benevolent tyranny (or tyrannical benevolence?) that enables companies to give and withhold benefits as techniques of control used in undermining worker agency’. If Cutolo and Almagioni’s and Rajak’s chapters highlight how national institutions and multinational corporations formulate health care and family policies and navigate different regimes of responsibility in order to favour their interests, Marie Schnitzler’s contribution moves the focus closer to the dynamics taking place within families themselves in order to analyse how specific welfare programmes are reinterpreted by people with disabilities and their relatives in the Cape Flats area of Cape Town (South Africa). The chapter shows how people with disabilities negotiate their responsibilities within a complex social landscape that is defined by contradictory claims and expectations from family members and


Benjamin Rubbers and Alessandro Jedlowski

institutions. On the one hand, people with disabilities have the possibility of receiving a state allowance, which raises expectations from family members and generates dependency networks around them. On the other hand, however, they continue to depend on others, especially their loved ones, for much of their everyday life needs. Schnitzler’s contribution thus highlights the web of social tensions within which specific regimes of responsibility are played out in the everyday practices of people whose lives are marked by severe economic and physical vulnerability. Importantly, these practices are also influenced by religious and moral principles, a dimension which forms the object of analysis of the following three contributions. Katrien Pype’s chapter focuses on the conflicting regimes of responsibility within which people find themselves in the predominantly Pentecostal city of Kinshasa. Discussing ethnographic examples that come both from her fieldwork research and the content of the Pentecostal television serials that she observed in Kinshasa, Pype highlights the way in which the politics of allocation of responsibility intervene in the subjectivation processes of Born-again Christians. In particular, she analyses the role of confessions, soul healing and deliverance rituals in the construction of responsible, Christian subjects, and she explores the depiction of responsibility in one of the evangelizing television serials that are produced by the company with which she worked during her research. This allows her to demonstrate how crucial the process of the ‘moral movement’ one makes in order to become a Christian subject is in ‘becoming responsible’, a movement that implies the creation of a distance from the web of social relations one used to live in before one’s conversion, and the taking up of one’s own responsibilities in the definition of a specific life itinerary. Peter Geschiere’s contribution moves away from Pentecostal Christianity to bring to the fore the equally complex and constantly-transforming regimes of responsibility that are conveyed by witchcraft imageries and discourses among the Maka of the south-eastern forest region of Cameroon. Geschiere guides us with a detailed, historical analysis of the transformations of local definitions of the ‘witch’ among the Maka in order to highlight the ambivalence of the concept of ‘djambe’ (or witchcraft) itself. At first sight djambe seems to be a concept positioned at the antipodes of traditional, morally grounded conceptions of responsibility, as it implies a betrayal from within the group, which unsettles the safety of the house. However, as Geschiere demonstrates through a number of examples, the djindjamb (a person who has developed his/her djambe) can also turn out to be a sort of a martyr, who refuses to give up a relative to his/her fellow witches and sacrifices him/herself instead. The ambivalent moral dimension of witchcraft among the Maka and the ‘inherent capacities of



these imaginaries to graft themselves unto other discourses, drawing their resilience from their diffuseness and elasticity, can be enlightening for the understanding of present-day confusions about the intertwinement of different regimes of responsibility in a neo-liberal context’ (Geschiere, in this volume). Indeed, as Geschiere demonstrates, the discourses and practices of responsibility make the object of the constant processes of renegotiation and reinvention similar to those that characterize the historical evolution of the discourse on witchcraft itself, a discourse that, as Geschiere has shown elsewhere, constantly incorporates elements of its social and cultural surroundings to reinvent and adapt itself in accordance to the changing scenarios of post-colonial ‘modernity’. Witchcraft discourses not only travel across time, they also move across space and along the complex networks of contemporary migration fluxes to Europe and other destinations. Roberto Beneduce’s concluding chapter analyses the disruptive epistemological force of witchcraft discourses when they enter the territorial commissions and tribunals in charge of evaluating asylum seekers’ demands for refugee status in Italy. Anthropologists and Africanist scholars are regularly consulted for expertise in these cases, an experience that directly puts into question their responsibility and the knowledge about African epistemologies and realities that they produce. What, then, Beneduce asks, is the role of anthropological knowledge when asylum seekers speak of mystical weapons, mysterious deaths and spiritual enemies? When the reason for escaping from their country is the fear of witchcraft or ‘voodoo’ rituals? In such cases, the anthropologist faces a twofold question. On the one hand, s/he is asked to ‘translate’ and to give sense to ‘strange’ experiences, this time not in his/her field notes, but in front of judges and lawyers, who are loyal to a specific bureaucratic rationality. On the other hand, s/he is faced with the task of distinguishing between true and false narratives in a context in which the truth about migration has become almost unspeakable because of an institutional framework that confers the right to mobility only to those who are able to demonstrate their condition of victimhood (and are thus entitled to the refugee status). In this context, trickeries and lies are adopted as a tactic of survival, and the anthropological knowledge is pushed into the murky field of politics. In this epistemological and ethical conundrum, specific dynamics of ‘ethnographic complicity’ between the anthropologist and the asylum seekers can emerge, which Beneduce makes an attempt to analyse in relation to wider debates about the issue of responsibility in anthropological theory and practice. By focusing on the responsibility of the anthropologist, Beneduce’s chapter acts as a conclusion to the volume, producing a meta-commentary


Benjamin Rubbers and Alessandro Jedlowski

on the other chapters included in the collection, and offering a number of final thoughts about the role of anthropology in contemporary social and political contexts. In particular, Beneduce identifies those he considers as fundamental priorities for anthropologists to ‘make good use of their knowledge’ in a contemporary world ‘vitiated by innumerable contradictions’. His focus of attention are the practices and discourses connected to immigrants and asylum-seekers, but his analysis offers the elements to outline the contours of a critical self-reflexive anthropology; one that takes the issue of responsibility seriously and makes it a central concern of the discipline.

Acknowledgements We wish to acknowledge the generous support of the Marie SkłodowskaCurie Actions of the European Commission and the University of Liege which made the organization of our meetings possible. Dinah Rajak’s and Katrien Pype’s contributions have been published previously in slightly different formats, and we thank Wiley and Berghahn Books for granting reprinting rights. This introduction expands some of the theoretical directions behind the WORKINMINING research project ‘Reinventing paternalism: The micropolitics of work in the mining companies of central Africa’. Led by Benjamin Rubbers, this project received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement n° 646802). The ideas developed in this chapter reflect only the authors’ view. The ERC is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains. Benjamin Rubbers obtained his Ph.D. degree from the Université Libre de Bruxelles and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. He is now full Professor in Social Anthropology at the University of Liège, Belgium. He participated in the preparation of this edited volume when he was awarded a Research chair from the Francqui Foundation and a Consolidator grant from the European Research Council. Benjamin is the author of three monographs and more than twenty journal articles and book chapters on the Congolese copperbelt, where he has undertaken frequent fieldtrips since 1999. Alessandro Jedlowski is Postdoctoral Fellow in Anthropology of Media at the Free University of Brussels Belgium and a former Marie Curie and FRS-FNRS grantee. His has been conducting fieldwork on Sub-Saharan



African media industries and South–South cultural interactions since 2009. He is the author of several essays and book chapters on these topics, and is the co-editor of Mobility between Africa, Asia and Latin America: Economic Networks and Cultural Interactions (Zed Books, 2017) and CineEthiopia: The History and Politics of Film in the Horn of Africa (Michigan State University Press, 2018).

Notes  1. The principal reference to the notion of responsibility in the reviews of the anthropological literature on ethics and morality (Zigon 2008; Fassin 2012; Massé 2015) is the distinction between the outcome-oriented ‘ethics of responsibility’ and the value-oriented ‘ethics of conviction’ found in Max Weber’s lecture on Politics as vocation. Probably made for the sake of clarity and simplicity, this ideal–typical distinction is of limited interest for the kind of approach to the study of responsibility that is developed in this book. Although to varying degrees, responsibility always involves a concern for both moral considerations values and a concern for actions’ outcomes.  2. Take the example of the corporate social responsibility agenda in the extractive industry. Depending on the circumstances and the actors, responsibility is sometimes enacted as a moral commitment (in the context of meetings with state representatives or focus groups with local communities), sometimes as a formal mandate involving procedures and controls (during impact studies, annual reports or external audits), and sometimes as a dialectic of prosecution and defence, in relation to the damage caused by extractive companies in the past (in advocacy groups’ reports, during protest marches, in court cases).  3. This interpretation has been given nuance by Francis Chateauraynaud (1991), who shows that the development of the welfare state did not lead to the pure and simple evacuation of the problems of fault and individual responsibility in debates about workplace injuries. Nikolas Rose and Filippa Lentzos (2017: 31–32) also note that the welfare state did not imply the withdrawal of all responsibilities from individuals. Even in the most developed welfare states, various measures were taken to push them to take charge of their own future.  4. This analysis is currently being developed in the WORKINMINING research project (

References Balandier, G. 1971. Sens et puissance. Les dynamiques sociales. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Bayart, J.-F. 1993 (1989). The State in Africa: The Politics of the Belly, London and New York: Longman. Berry, S. 1989. ‘Social Institutions and Access to Resources’, Africa 59(1): 41–55.


Benjamin Rubbers and Alessandro Jedlowski

Blundo, G. 2011. ‘Une administration à deux vitesses: Projets de développement et construction de l’Etat au Sahel’, Cahiers d’études africaines 202–203: 427–452. Chateauraynaud, F. 1991. La faute professionnelle: Une sociologie des conflits de responsabilité. Paris: Métaillé. Daloz, J.-P., and P. Chabal. 1999. Africa Works: Disorder as Political Instrument. Oxford: James Curray. Douglas, M. 1992. Risk and Blame: Essays in Cultural Theory. London and New York: Routledge. Ewald, F. 1996 (1986). Histoire de l’Etat providence. Paris: Grasset et Fasquelle. Evans-Pritchard, E. 1937. Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Fassin, D. (ed.) 2012. A Companion to Moral Anthropology. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. Faubion, J.D. 2001. ‘Towards an Anthropology of Ethics: Foucault and the Pedagogies of Autopoiesis’, Representations 74: 83–104.  . 2011. An Anthropology of Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Fauconnet, P. 1928. La responsabilité: Etude de sociologie. Paris: Librairie Félix Alcan. Ferguson, J. 2015. Give a Man a Fish: Reflections on the New Politics of Distribution. Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press. Gluckman, M. (ed.) 1972. The Allocation of Responsibility. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Guyer, J. 2014 ‘Durational Ethics: Search, Finding, and Translation of Fauconnet’s “Essay on Responsibility and Liberty”’, Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 4(1): 397–409. Laidlaw, J. 2002. ‘For an Anthropology of Ethics and Freedom’, Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute 8(2): 311–332.  . 2013. The Subject of Virtue: An Anthropology of Ethics and Freedom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lambek, M. 2000. ‘The Anthropology of Religion and the Quarrel between Poetry and Philosophy’, Current Anthropology 41(3): 309–320.  . (ed.) 2010. Ordinary Ethics: Anthropology, Language, and Action. New York: Fordham University Press. Levinas, E. 1981 [1974]. Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. Lévy-Bruhl, L. 1884. L’idée de responsabilité. Paris: Hachette. Lonsdale, J. 1986. ‘Political Accountability in African History’, in P. Chabal (ed.), Political Domination in Africa: Reflections on the Limits of Power. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 126–157. Massé, R. 2015. Anthropologie de la morale et de l’éthique, Montréal: Presses de l’Université de Laval. Mbembe, A. 2002. ‘African Modes of Self-Writing’, Public Culture 14(1): 239–273. McKeon, R. 1957. ‘The Development and the Significance of the Concept of Responsibility’, Revue internationale de philosophie 11(39,1): 3–32. Médard, J.-F. 1992. ‘L’État postcolonial en Afrique noire: l’interprétation néopatrimoniale de l’État.’ Studia africana 3: 125–133. Rajak, D. 2011. In Good Company: An Anatomy of Corporate Social Responsibility. Stanford: Stanford University Press.



Ricoeur, P. 1994. ‘Le concept de responsabilité: essai d’analyse sémantique’, Esprit 206: 28–48.  . 2003. ‘Responsabilité et fragilité’, Autres Temps: Cahiers d’éthique sociale et politique 76(1): 127–141. Rose, N. 1999. Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  . 2001. ‘The Politics of Life Itself’, Theory, Culture and Society 18(6): 1–30. Rose, N., and F. Lentzos. 2017. ‘Making us Resilient: Responsible Citizens for Uncertain Times’, in S. Trnka and C. Trundle (eds), Competing Responsibilities: The Politics and Ethics of Contemporary Life. Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, pp. 27–48. Rubbers, B. 2013. Le paternalisme en question. Les anciens ouvriers de la Gécamines face à la libéralisation du secteur minier katangais (R.D. Congo). Paris: L’Harmattan. Shamir, R. 2008. ‘The Age of Responsibilization: On Market-embedded Morality’, Economy and Society 37(1): 1–19. Shore, C. 2008. ‘Audit Culture and Illiberal Governance: Universities and the Politics of Accountability’, Anthropological Theory 8(3): 278–299.  . 2017. ‘Audit Culture and the Politics of Responsibility: Beyond Neoliberal Responsibilization’, in S. Trnka and C. Trundle (eds), Competing Responsibilities: The Politics and Ethics of Contemporary Life. Durham and London: Duke University Press, pp. 96–117. Taylor, C. 1976. ‘Responsibility for Self’, in A.O. Rorty (ed.), The Identities of Persons. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 281–299. Trnka, S., and C. Trundle. (eds) 2017. Competing Responsibilities: The Politics and Ethics of Contemporary Life. Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press. Williams, B. 2008 [1993]. Shame and Necessity. Berkeley: University of California Press. Zigon, J. 2008. Morality: An Anthropological Perspective. Oxford: Berg.

Chapter 1

Historical Regimes of Responsibility in ‘the Politics of the Belly’ Jean-François Bayart


he idea of responsibility is inseparable from notions of a sense of social or cultural belonging and material interests. Senses of belonging, and interests, come by definition in many forms. Responsibility, on the other hand, is tied into categories of space and time: the space in which it is exercised, and the time to which it is indebted, whether it be the time of human beings or of God. In other words, responsibility carries conflict within itself. To understand this, we need simply take up one relatively brief historical sequence, that of structural adjustment programmes from the 1980s to the 2000s. Their protagonists saw themselves as caught up in various registers of responsibility. African donors and political and economic leaders sometimes shared a common vision of macroeconomics and the need for Africa to make an ‘adjustment’ to the constraints and opportunities of the global market, but this did not mean that they felt responsible to the same authorities. Some were accountable to multilateral institutions, but these did not necessarily have the same agenda and each of them fostered different or divergent interests, if only because they were the echo chambers of their national shareholders. Others were the representatives of their nations, but also of narrower circles of belonging constitutive of these nations, starting with what is called ethnicity; this comes endowed with a specific ‘moral economy’, as John Lonsdale (1992) has demonstrated in the case of the Kikuyu in Kenya. In these circumstances, the ‘Washington Consensus’ was a useful (or useless) fiction, a ‘working misunderstanding’ (Sahlins 1993), which mainly provided the framework for hard-headed


Jean-François Bayart

negotiations between donors and recipients of multilateral and bilateral credits – for example, negotiations on the setting of economic indicators such as the rate of inflation, or the terms of taxation. The overlapping of these regimes of responsibility generated a considerable degree of irresponsibility, judging by the deleterious consequences of this period for civil peace, for the health and education of the populations involved and for their standards of living. But structural adjustment programmes concerned other actors than individual states and the institutions of the Bretton Woods or UN systems – in particular they concerned companies torn between the expectations of their shareholders, employees and customers, and more or less preoccupied by their social responsibility (CSR, or corporate social responsibility), and they also affected the forces of civil society, which embodied other repertoires to do with citizenship, religion, environment, health, public education and so on. From this brief overview, it can be concluded that, during the short sequence of structural adjustment, responsibility was the subject of a complex process of utterance on the part of a multitude of actors, and that its development took the form of a ‘constellation’ (Konstellation).1 It is this very same complexity that we must understand and problematize in terms of the historicity of African societies – for these societies, like all others, but perhaps more obviously than others (because of their history and their cultural practices), are made up of a plurality of space/times (Bayart 1979). The representations of responsibility that prevail within them stem from this heterogeneity, and the more or less contradictory rationalities that it fosters.

The Interweaving of Historical Durations The African political classes chose, in the aftermath of independence, to reproduce the territorial framework inherited from colonization and endorsed the principle of the nation-state. As a result, they stayed within a framework going back two centuries, combining the expansion of the capitalist mode of production with the universalization of the nationstate as a mode of political organization on the level of the international system (Bayart 2007). This sequence was paradoxically accompanied by the crystallization and intensification of particularist forms of social identification, of which ethnicity and religious denomination are the two main examples evident across the African continent. Each of these three dimensions tends to have its own regime(s) of responsibility. Such transformations have profoundly affected West African and Saharan societies since the nineteenth century. On the one hand, they

Historical Regimes of Responsibility


have come into conflict with these societies’ main political, economic and cultural mechanisms, especially their relation to territory, sovereignty, wealth and poverty, spatial mobility, freedom and dignity, and therefore responsibility. On the other hand, they have been the subject of often large-scale, and always creative, appropriation on the part of all of their actors. This twofold reality casts doubt on most of the interpretations which emphasize the supposedly insurmountable contradictions between a state inherited from colonization and traditional local societies, in the form of a zero-sum game. Things are actually much more complicated, as the regimes of legitimacy, security, social responsibility, wealth enhancement and the cultural and political representation of ‘good government’ simultaneously play a part in these historical dimensions, in different spaces and disparate durations that fit into each other rather than succeeding one another. Analyses distinguishing between pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial periods, and contrasting Africa with European or other entities that have made a dramatic entrance into African history, are totally inadequate when it comes to understanding the political problems that African states encounter, and the crises and conflicts which affect them. The very notion of periodization, which in any case is criticized by a growing number of historians, is misleading and does not help to understand the historicity of African societies in their complexity and multidimensionality. Like all societies, but in a more obvious way when analysed in detail, and when we get away from the mythology of dependency that sees the colonial period (or the Atlantic slave trade) as the be-all and end-all of their historicity, African political societies are based on the interweaving of heterogeneous, ‘long’, ‘medium’ or ‘short’ durations (durées), in Fernand Braudel’s sense (1949). But, as well as drawing on the analytical convenience of Braudel’s distinction, we need to understand, as Henri Bergson (1889) would put it, the ‘compenetration’ of these durations, both from the point of view of the objective structuring of societies – their political organization, their mode of production and their social relations, for example – and in their cultural and political consciousness. This ‘compenetration’ of durations gives rise to traumatic memory effects, which can be described, as Bergson does (here drawing on the psychiatrist Pierre Janet), as ‘false recognitions’ or ‘memories of the present’. This same compenetration also leads to hybridizations between heterogeneous political forms or repertoires, of various origins, and to many different (and even competing) senses of identification and belonging. These effects of memory and hybridization, this logic of the overlapping and concatenation of different durations, and these respective elements of ‘undivided continuity and [of] creation’ (Bergson 1911)


Jean-François Bayart

are constitutive factors in the reproduction of the nation-state south of Sahara and most of the political crises it undergoes. They are all the more complex because in reality the three orders of duration (short, medium and long) also come in several guises. Even if we leave aside the transformations that shaped the medieval age and the early modern age of the subcontinent over several centuries, neither the colonial moment nor the post-colonial moment have been immune from changes that give them their true historicity, notwithstanding their polemical essentialization in terms of ‘colonialism’ or ‘neocolonialism’ or postcoloniality. The state in Africa may suffer less from its congenital maladaptation to local societies than from the way it was grafted onto them, and from its powerlessness (or its deliberate political reluctance) to meet the expectations it raises among its citizens, including in situations of political bankruptcy and civil war (cf. Lombard 2016). The state is a rhizome: it has a real historical base, interacts with local authorities, and has seen its bureaucratic principle largely adopted even in the lower strata of society (Bayart 1989 and 2013). The coherence of the whole of the Saharan and West African region seems to stem from a historical sequence which has been its matrix and which continues to configure social, economic and political transformations within it: namely the shift from a world of empires to a regional system of nation-states, in the context of the global expansion of capitalism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As in the Eastern Mediterranean, the nation-state, in West African and Saharan countries, is the result of imperial combinations, rather than of any unitary imperial matrix, since colonial empires in the second half of the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth century were grafted onto earlier imperial forms, or onto memories of them, and even sometimes formed a real synthesis with them which has lasted until today, as in the emblematic case of Morocco (Hibou and Tozy 2015). Shaped by the colonizer, the contemporary nation-state thus interacts both with imperial logics which are themselves heterogeneous and with logics of lineage that are not antagonistic to the former (pace the postulates of historicist evolutionism) but in fact fuel them. Historians and anthropologists have demonstrated that the old states of Africa were structured by the intermediation of lineages.2 The memory of dead empires is perpetuated today through these lineages, reproduced by family stories and genealogies – the ‘histories’ (tawarikh) that are the ‘most popular genre of historical writing’ in the Sahara and the Sahel (Scheele 2012: 162) – and more broadly by the oral tradition, in a more or less conflictual and polemical way. The contemporary nationstate, far from having reduced the significance of lineages, has embraced them and continues to rely on them.3 Nation-state, empire, lineage: each

Historical Regimes of Responsibility


has its memories, each has its regimes of responsibility, which interact with the global categorical imperatives both of monotheisms and markets. As a commercial space integrated into the longue durée, the Saharan and Western African region has generated, from one trading zone to another, and within different societies, ‘marginal gains’ which have been the main driver of accumulation in a context of monetary pluralism and financial informality.4 The Sahara, the Sahel and the Forest were thus highly lucrative crossover areas, depending on several factors that included supply and price differentials between the British and French empires during the Second World War, the exit of Mali from the franc zone in 1962 and the nationalization of its foreign trade, the vagaries of the subsidy policy for staples enforced by the Algerian state, the return of Mali to the franc zone in 1984, and the devaluation of the CFA franc in 1994 – to cite just one example, namely the political economy of the border between Mali and Algeria. As a counterpart to its contemporary territorial division, the Saharan and West Africa region includes a trans-societal architecture of vehicular trade networks that tend to be identified in ethnic terms, at the risk of simplifying things and erasing the internal divisions of these transitive peoples. In the words of Jane Guyer, the Saharan and West Africa region has been ‘marketable, but not bankable’ (Guyer 2004: 16). Given the failure of free trade to penetrate the continent economically, the European powers tried to remedy the situation in the second half of the nineteenth century by moving from an ‘imperialism of intent’ to an ‘imperialism of result’, which implied its effective military occupation (Hopkins 1995: 248). They did not succeed in the colonial framework, any more than they did later on through official development assistance or structural adjustment. Even today, ‘everything seems changeable, negotiable, redefinable all the time’ (Guyer 2004: 18). The resulting multidimensionality of African societies makes the creation of scales of equivalence and (in)commensurability crucial, both within these societies and at their interface with their surroundings. This multidimensionality involves the formation of values, but also of space–times, regimes of truth and repertoires of identification. Far beyond the sphere of market exchange, Western and Saharan Africa is historically characterized by its mobility and by a fungibility that leads another anthropologist, Sarah Berry (1993), to say that, in its space, ‘no condition is permanent’. Indeed, the phrase ‘the African Frontier’ has been used to conceptualize the driving force behind the political formations of older times (Kopytoff 1987). This characterization remains relevant today, even in the literal sense of the term: frontier towns which arose simply by fostering the ‘marginal gains’ of smuggling – towns such as al-Khalil on the


Jean-François Bayart

Algeria–Mali border, Fotokol and Amchide on the Nigeria–Cameroon border, and Mbaimboum on the Cameroon–Chad–Central Africa border have become crucial places of transit and trade on both sides of the relevant monetary and commercial zones by institutionalizing new forms of homelessness, belonging, and local cosmopolitanism, and by sharpening the greed of armed forces from the Tuareg, Aqmi and Boko Haram rebellions and of gangs of coupeurs de route (highway bandits who set up road-blocks). African societies have become twofold, with a diurnal dimension and a nocturnal dimension of the invisible; this is another manifestation of the characteristic mutability of social affiliations and itineraries, often picaresque and found in various guises, for example therapeutic, religious or professional.5 ‘He who can do more can do less’, as the saying goes: in societies where some men can turn into panthers or other wild animals, it is easy to change economic activity or political camp by being a sobel, a soldier by day and a rebel by night, as in Sierra Leone in the 1990s, or by practising parliamentary ‘transhumance’, as in Benin in the same period. Identity-swapping and its ‘marginal gains’ are not limited to the monetary or commercial orders alone. They are consubstantial with the social life and history of Western and Saharan Africa and assume a cultural shape there (so long as we do not take a culturalist view of the latter). Jane Guyer, with her experience as an anthropologist and historian of economics and currency, has written about the ‘tradition of invention’ in Africa, an ironic reference to the process of ‘the invention of tradition’ that Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger highlighted: this enables her to reject the idea that a tradition can ever be anything but ‘invented’: ‘Social and cultural life in Africa during the centuries preceding colonization was much more inventive in everyday life than we can imagine today’, she argues – and asserts that ‘Africa has never been traditional’ (Guyer 2000 and 2007; see also Vansina 1990: ch. 9; Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983). Adventurism, cunning, betrayals or political reversals, and fraud are only epiphenomena of this cultural and historical tendency, the recurrence of which gives rise to moral judgments that may be understandable but are analytically irrelevant since what is at stake is actually a form of ‘moral economy’. The dance mask was its primary artistic expression and is still commonly used in cultural and ritual associations (cf. Argenti 2007; Beuvier 2014). The merchant, the hawker, the transporter, the migrant, the itinerant fighter, the smuggler, the ‘digger’ and the preacher are paradigmatic contemporary social figures of this mask. In addition to its connection with the imperial and lineage logics of the past, a second feature of the West African and Saharan region that we are considering is its multi-century commercial integration into both

Historical Regimes of Responsibility


the Mediterranean and the Atlantic worlds, in a logic of ‘marginal gains’: ‘non-equivalent exchange, through the use of quantifiable currencies, was a familiar institution in West and Equatorial Africa, to which the spread of currencies may well have profoundly contributed. People gained familiarity with negotiating intervals, performing precedence and exchanging goods and services that were explicitly not the match of each other while still measuring value on a monetary scale’ (Guyer 2004: 47). This market economy is not driven by the rational–legal calculation inherent in the spirit of capitalism, as problematized by Max Weber, but by the unpredictable ‘performances’ of its actors, according to varied cultural repertoires whose dramaturgy is all the more evident when it unfolds in a context of crisis, for example a shortage of supplies (ibid.: 97 and seq.).6 Its register is one of uncertainty, echoed perhaps by a more general political ‘indocility’ (Mbembe 1988). The third trait that characterizes the Saharan and West African region is its centuries-old experience of slavery, or more exactly the legacy of three different experiences of slavery intertwined with each other: the trans-Saharan slave trade, the Atlantic slave trade, and the slavery internal to the societies of this area – three historical incarnations of servitude to which we must undoubtedly add the forced labour of colonization, particularly in French West Africa, so closely associated, in the consciousness of the ‘natives’, with a resurgence of slavery. The notion of slavery is generic and questionable in that it brings together profoundly heterogeneous forms of the coercive or statutory exploitation of the labour force. It does not refer to a ‘permanent’ condition, in a continent where permanent conditions are lacking, since the descendants of a captive, in ancient African societies, gradually became part of the family of his masters, which did not, however, erase the indignity of their origins. But one of the singularities of the area we are considering is precisely this complexity in the legacy of slavery, its traumatic memory, and its varying political treatment, ranging from the ideological repression of internal slavery in the guise of nationalist unanimism and the exacerbation of the ‘false recognition’ of the Atlantic slave trade to the diplomatically correct euphemization of the trans-Saharan slave trade in the Western Sahel and the predatory empire of Rabeh in the Lake Chad basin. For different reasons, colonization, decolonization, the priority given to the needs of development and structural adjustment, have successively favoured the repression of the issue of slavery in public debate, with some exceptions such as Mauritania, and Mali and Guinea, whose first nationalist governments violently attacked the ‘feudalism’ of their traditional leaders. But it remains a ‘public secret’, as the anthropologist Michael Taussig’s (1999) oxymoron has it, an open secret that is the subtext of most civil wars,


Jean-François Bayart

insurrections, coups d’état, religious mobilizations and even repression, at least in sub-Saharan West Africa. Everyone there knows who is who, based on surnames or signs of behavioural distinction, for example, and marriage alliances must take this into account. Representations of witchcraft also frequently refer to the heritage of the slave trade (Argenti 2007). And, in Bergsonian terms, the ‘memory’ (souvenir) of it now absorbs the ‘present’ of the issue of migration, against the backdrop of the civil war in Libya, blurring the mirror effects of historical responsibilities. The forging of connections between empires (and their lineages) and the nation-state, between the ethics of performance and the spirit of capitalism, and between slavery and capitalism: these are three common denominators constituting a historical space congruent with and integrated into the longue durée, covering the countries of the Maghreb, the western half of the Sahara, and what is commonly called West Africa. To grasp the entanglement of the durations comprising the historicity of these societies, it is quite legitimate to resort to the nation-state as a yardstick, as it still remains right at the centre of their organization, their political economy, their imaginaire and their reproduction, notwithstanding the usual received ideas about the failed state. Nevertheless, its social foundations vary from one region or province to another.7 Above all, it is at the local level of its historical terroirs that the interweaving of the durations that produce it can be deciphered in most detail – an interweaving which underlies the major questions that the ‘governance’ of the nationstate faces, such as the agrarian problem or the legacy of slavery. It is also at this level, quite often, that the major crises and conflicts that hit the international headlines can be at least partly explained. The historicity of a terroir cannot be abstracted from either the national dimension or the international environment. The prominent role of ‘outside elites’, whether they are urban residents or expatriates, quick to exert their influence or hold onto their place within traditional institutions or through ‘development committees’ and NGOs, is well documented by anthropologists. In addition, the medium scale is often essential for understanding the facts under analysis, especially when a regional area of trade or investment opens up, particularly in the real estate sector, or a ‘system of conflicts’ is formed (cf. Marchal 2006), of which the Libya– Niger–Mali Triangle, the Lake Chad Basin and the Mano River Basin, and the southern part of Senegambia from the Gambia to Guinea-Bissau, provide (or have done so over recent decades) an illustration. The concept of historical terroir should not be associated with the idea of gregariousness. It is a node of circulations, often part of the longue durée – Mbororo transhumance, the Hajj, and Dioula commercial networks, for example – but also part of our own contemporary world.

Historical Regimes of Responsibility


The question of responsibility can only be understood in the light of this interweaving and overlapping of historical durations, seen on their different levels.

The Moment of the Colonial State Colonization itself was a tremendously complex historical moment that we have tended to essentialize, even speaking of ‘coloniality’, like some adherents of postcolonial studies, without much regard for the diversity of concrete ‘colonial situations’. But colonization and the subsequent colonial administrations always remained dependent on the historicity of the terroirs with which imperial negotiations and transactions were involved, despite the brutality of the occupation. So, we need from the start to get away from interpreting it in terms of dependency, or in neo-Foucauldian terms, as an unambiguous disciplinary enterprise: such discourses set themselves up as exclusive regimes of responsibility. Of course, both ‘dependency’ and ‘discipline’ were important issues: but dependency is a form of action, and sometimes a strategy, on the part of the actors who are (willingly or not) subject to it. When seen in its longue durée, the history of Africa has been a ‘history of extraversion’ during which its societies have constructed their dependency on Europe, both ‘from above’ and ‘from below’, in a trajectory that we can simultaneously analyse in terms of the rational (or irrational, or ‘unintentional’) policies of their ruling groups, the more or less confused social mobilizations of subordinate groups, or the cultural imaginaire, depending on the phenomena we observe and the methodological point of view we adopt (Bayart 2000 and 2009). This, of course, does not exclude constraints or contradictions at the heart of these policies or practices of extraversion (Nubukpo 2011). And if we are to cite Michel Foucault, we may as well do so intelligently and recall that he saw power as an action on actions, on the actions of the dominated and the actions of subordinate groups – in this case the natives. It is true that the colonial state introduced a radical distortion in relation to the historicity of African societies, and aroused ‘neither astonishment nor wonder, but only the stupor caused by total defeat’ (Eboussi-Boulaga 1977: 15–16). However, this founding distortion was neither homogeneous nor coherent nor unambiguous. Fundamentally, if we want to understand the ‘governance’ of the contemporary nationstate, this governance has been produced as much by Europeans as by Africans, who have continued to co-write the painful story of their continent under foreign occupation. In addition, the various components of governance have not always been produced by the state or the colonial


Jean-François Bayart

project. Just as European historians now admit that the state has not had an excessive role in, and even less a monopoly over, the enactment of the law and the norms that are attributed to it for the sole purpose of increasing the centralization and strength of the state (as presented by the teleological vision that has long prevailed), African studies must take into account the active participation of the ‘natives’ in the transformations of the continent that have led to its dependency, embodied today in the way that norms are set down for it – from top to bottom of the societies concerned:8 as Béatrice Hibou and Boris Samuel conclude ‘because it results from practices, the imposition of norms [by numbers] should rather be understood as an interactive process’ (2011: 26), just as the imposition of norms of identity according to the categories of ethnicity was ‘invented’ or ‘created’, in the words of anthropologists and historians, by the actors of colonization, both European and ‘native’. In a way, colonization represented a real revolution, which does not exclude the possibility that certain dominant groups have been able to retain control of it and benefit from it by deploying a conservative modernization strategy, like the Fulani-Hausa aristocracy of the caliphate of Sokoto, in northern Nigeria, under the leadership of a statesman, Sardauna Ahmadu Bello, who in many ways could be compared to Cavour or Bismarck. It was an epistemic revolution, which introduced into society the rationality, the knowledge, the statistics and the techniques of the West. It was a political and administrative revolution, because of the establishment of the state in societies that, historically, had learned the ‘civilized art of living fairly peaceably together not in states’, in John Lonsdale’s words (1981: 139); this was illustrated, in an extreme way, by the huge Saharan commercial and cultural space regulated by Islamic law, apart from any proper political sovereignty (see also Lydon 2009; Scheele 2012). It was a local revolution, replacing the complexity of historical terroirs with the administrative unit of the village or often, more precisely, by the more or less coercive gathering of villages (cf. Mann 2015: 73 and seq.). It was a revolution in the education and socialization of children, through school, youth movements and sport; a gender revolution, thanks to the disruption of relations between men and women; a revolution in status, thanks to the redistribution of roles between seniors and youngsters; and a religious revolution, promoting or making possible the expansion of Christianity, but also of Islam. It was a moral revolution, forcing Africans to reinvent their conception of honour (Iliffe 2005); a revolution in identity, developing new forms of social consciousness such as monotheistic faith, ethnic consciousness, national consciousness, class consciousness, and liberal, socialist, Christian and Islamist political consciousnesses. It was a cultural revolution, with the massive diffusion

Historical Regimes of Responsibility


of new practices affecting clothing, food and the body; and finally, it was an economic revolution, thanks to the implantation of the capitalist mode of production, its productive forces, its social relations of production, and its rational–legal institutional and cultural expressions – an economic revolution that changed the very nature of wealth and poverty by making them depend on the control of money, finance and, perhaps most importantly, land (Iliffe 1987: 105 and seq.). Contemporary ideas of responsibility draw from each of these revolutions. It is the economic revolution of money, finance and property that we must emphasize if we are to unravel the web of contemporary governance, based as it is on three major transformations that mostly occurred at the end of the nineteenth century and in the first half of the twentieth. Under colonial rule, Africa became territorialized through exclusive borders, the regrouping and fixing of its populations, and the securitization of its lands. It adopted bureaucratic political and social institutions, at the same time as it was all being put into writing. Finally, it was put into numbers through statistics, censuses and macroeconomic policies, ‘the thought of the state’ placed in the service of a developmentalist voluntarism of which the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the planning of ‘emergence’ have so far comprised the latest stages (cf. Hibou and Samuel 2011; Egil 2005 and 2015). Two observations need to be made here. On the one hand, the state has taken over these modes of government, not without extending them in the context of neoliberal globalization. On the other hand, these new modes of government are at odds with some of the longue durée historical processes that we have identified, in particular the relativism of identity peculiar to empires and to polytheism, the principle of mobility that generates ‘marginalized gains’, the art of performance, the non-alienation of land tenure, and ‘wealth in people’ rather than in money and land, even when this comes at the cost of slavery and clientelism (in the almost Roman sense of the term). We need to say it again: this is only an ideal-type, a paradigm, partially contradicted or qualified by each of the concrete historical cases we are considering. Nevertheless, such exceptions do not invalidate the ideal type of the Great Distortion brought about by colonization. If we keep Bergson’s vocabulary, and provided we do not adopt a culturalist view of this shift, it can be seen that Africa has indeed, within a century, with the aid of colonial forceps, moved from ‘duration’[durée] to‘time’ [temps], the latter being inseparable from space, in Bergson’s view. In other words, the Great Colonial Distortion amounted to a spatialization of Africa, or perhaps rather to its ‘territorialization’, this time in the sense of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1983). This abstract formulation can draw


Jean-François Bayart

on some very specific facts relevant to the issue of responsibility. For example, in West Nigeria, in Yoruba country, in the 1960s, Jane Guyer noted ‘the existence of mutual monetary obligations that smoothed out seasonal variations’ (Guyer, Salami and Akinlade 2011: 50–51). Purchase and sale by deferred payment (àwin) differed from debt (gbèsè): ‘As long as the time limit for the postponement of the deferred payment has not been reached, the monetary obligation remains an àwin, and it incurs no additional payment such as “interest”. The obligation does not fall into the category of gbèsè until the deadline has passed’ (ibid.). Micro-credit institutions for ordinary people, including tontines, mutual credit groups, guilds, and social and religious clubs, acted as mediators to smooth out seasonal variations in income and a faster circulation in the overall money supply, to the detriment of savings, but more or less avoiding the phenomena of ‘there’s no money in town’ that hit the local economy hard from the 1980s onwards. Now, unlike our current financialized economy, the “finite” aspect – the date of the final settlement when the deadline arrives – has always been a real, factual element, and not just an element in a legal technology subject to permanent redeployment. The date of the settlement may not be defined according to the Western calendar, but it has long been accurately calibrated in accordance with the number of market cycles, the seasons, or other repetitive elements of the calendar. (Ibid.)

From one historical terroir to another, the Great Distortion has tended to bureaucratize and put into numbers these performances and negotiations between actors situated in temporalities other than those of the state and the international system of which it was part. We must not underestimate the trauma caused by the colonial revolution, which intimately affected souls and bodies. There followed a feeling of cultural, moral, spiritual and even demographic insecurity that is one of the sources of contemporary violence (cf. Last 2008; Ceriana Mayneri 2014).9 But colonization also opened up new opportunities that aroused the enthusiasm and support of many Africans, making it an ‘ambiguous’ moment, as the sociologist Georges Balandier (1957) and the novelist Cheikh Hamidou Kane (1961) put it. From this ambiguity Africa has not emerged, and its contemporary governance is consubstantially tainted. Any attempt at clarification could only be a form of ‘invention of tradition’ of an inevitably totalitarian kind, in terms of Louis Dumont’s definition (1977), striving to rebuild a holistic society on the foundations of a concretely individualistic society (whatever one may think of it). West Africa has already paid a heavy price for such conceptions with the SékouTouré, Tombalbaye and Eyadema regimes, which attempted, through coercion,

Historical Regimes of Responsibility


to impose some fantasy of ‘authenticity’ on their respective countries. In reality, the historical truth of Africa has consisted in a large-scale appropriation of the foreign contribution, following the logic of extraversion which has dominated its trajectory over the longue durée.

The Moral Ambiguity of the Post-colonial State In the contrasting contexts of contemporary Africa, between violence and civic participation, between local, national and global scales, between political and social struggle, and between democracy and the penumbra of the ‘inter-wars’ periods (Debos 2016), governance is negotiated in accordance with specific moral economies which must not be reified into timeless cultures, but which denote particular stories. Vincent Bonnecase (2013) provides us with one example in his analysis of the ‘granary-state’ in Niger. Often referred to, not very precisely, as ‘hunger riots’ (given the soaring international cereal prices in the mid-2000s), protests against the high cost of living mainly reflected very outdated ideas about the Songhay princes nourriciers, memories of the colonial administrative regulation, nostalgia for Seyni Kountché’s dirigiste regime and the period prior to structural adjustment, in short ‘specific political imaginaires anchored in strictly local histories’, and also a ‘desire for the state’, however authoritarian, insofar as the degradation of living conditions was concomitant with democratization (Bonnecase 2013). In the same vein, Jane Guyer showed how the Yoruba relationship to the Nigerian state was mediated by historically situated cultural representations – shaped in particular by the economic experiences of recent decades, such as the oil bonanza and its disappointing consequences, which resulted in a depreciation of the naira and the drying up of the circulation of money – and also by an idiosyncratic conception of development independent of the Western understanding of the notion (Guyer 2004; Peel 1978). The very ideas of modernity, development, and ‘Enlightenment’ (qlaju) are endogenous in Yoruba country, while being associated with openness to the rest of the world. Cultural extraversion, in fact, has been the driving force behind Yoruba nationalism, in which Afro-Brazilians and the Saro – slaves returning from Sierra Leone – have had a major influence (Peel 2000). In this historical context, the Yoruba – like many other Nigerians, incidentally – perceive macroeconomics through the prism of two priorities: the fuel supply at the petrol pump, always erratic due to recurrent shortages, and the money supply necessary for their artisanal economic activities, which ‘is part of an unwritten clause, but one that is deeply inscribed in the political contract concluded


Jean-François Bayart

between the state and its populations’ (Guyer, Salami and Akinlade 2011: 44), which gives rise to a veritable popular theory of money on the basis of which the government’s action will be evaluated. Even the violence of the coupeurs de route can be a way of renegotiating citizenship, as Janet Roitman (2004) and Saïbou Issa (2010) have shown for northern Cameroon. Contemporary brigandage is seen as part of the traditional moral and political economy of the rezzou in the ancient empires of Sokoto, Bornou, Baguirmi, Wandala and Ouaddaï. It was perpetuated during the colonial period, benefiting from the omertà of the villages and sometimes enjoying the complicity of the tribal chiefs, organizing itself in prisons from which it was just as easy to escape as it was to enter them (Issa 2004: 92). It was also carried out against the backdrop of the persistent dissent of the kirdi (non-Muslim) societies, whose frequent ‘incidents’ were constantly bemoaned by French commandants de cercle/colonial authorities. Today, rural banditry has undoubtedly become more violent, less chivalrous than in the good old times of which the griots sing, rightly or wrongly, but it responds to an ethic, or at least to certain norms – those of the so-called ‘bush soldiers’, mirrored by the ethics of the victims. An ambush thus becomes a place of negotiation in and through coercion, which some gangs literally stage by imposing a whole burlesque drama on the unfortunate travellers (ibid.: 96 and seq.). Moreover, the state is by no means absent from this moral economy of predation, either by participating via some of its agents or auxiliaries, such as the village militias for self-defence against Boko Haram, or by helping to radicalize it through the ferocity of its repression since the 1980s. These days, jihadists are carrying out a non-territorial mode of domination, of which legitimate predation, on the boundaries between the Daral-Harb and the Dar al-Islam, is the moral economy, however shocking this may appear, especially when it takes the form of a massacre or the capture and enslavement of young women.10 The effective government of the nation-state is to a large extent played out in the heterogeneity and complexity of the historical terroirs in which the autonomy of society is rooted in spite of the authoritarian and totalitarian character of the government. The limited means of the latter guarantee the Eigensinn (wilful agency or self-affirmation, see Lüdtke 1995 and 2000) of the social actors, though we must not underestimate the ability of the rhizome state to penetrate the mysteries of the ‘real country’. There is a no-man’s-land here that remains poorly understood in the social sciences of the political realm or the economics of development, even if the centrality of intermediation practices has been analysed in detail (Bierschenk, Chauveau and Olivier de Sardan 2000). Another major problem of contemporary ‘governance’, and one that is much debated, is

Historical Regimes of Responsibility


that of ‘corruption’, and it deserves to be formulated in these terms. The heuristic cynicism of historical sociology decrees that corruption should be conceptualized as a process of primitive accumulation of capital, of which it is easy to find equivalents in the history of all the societies in the industrial world. But neither donors nor citizens interpret it that way. They express it in a normative vocabulary, whether moral or religious, or else in the vocabulary of efficiency, so as to denounce the way the state and its servants are guilty of mismanagement. Nevertheless, things are more complicated than the activists of the Balai Citoyen (Clean Sweep) movement in Burkina Faso, and the Y en a marre (We’ve Had Enough) movement in Senegal, as well as senior officials in official development aid, would have us believe. Because ‘for there to be corrupt people, there must be people to corrupt them’, as African presidents and antiglobalists, in sudden strange agreement, regularly note as they point an accusing finger at Western politicians and multinationals. For it is also true that corruption is a functional cog in the redistribution of wealth that little people, and even the better-off too, expect from the powerful and the rich. Africa is not just ‘ambiguous’, as many writers have so eloquently put it. It is ambivalent especially because of the diversity of the historical regimes of responsibility that coexist there. This ambivalence is found at the heart of post-colonial governmentality, at the intersection of the techniques of domination and techniques of the self, and thus at the heart of subjectivation, the constitution of the moral subject and its regimes of truth. It is a lack of understanding that leads people to imprison African societies in evolutionist and culturalist clichés, with a certain condescension as to the alleged irresponsibility and greed of its leaders. The continent suffers from too much responsibility, rather than from a lack of it. Jean-François Bayart, a specialist in historical and comparative sociology of politics, is a professor at the Graduate Institute (Geneva), where he holds the Yves Oltramare Chair in ‘Religion and Politics in the Contemporary World’. Researcher at the CNRS from 1976 to 2015, he is the founder of the academic journals Politique africaine (in 1980) and Critique internationale (in 1998), as well as the collection ‘Recherches internationales’ at Karthala (in 1998). He has published several works, including The State in Africa: The Politics of the Belly (Polity, 1993 and 2009), The Illusion of Cultural Identity (University of Chicago Press, 2005) and Global Subjects: A Political Critique of Globalization (Polity, 2007).


Jean-François Bayart

Notes  1. Constellation is a metaphor ‘regularly used by Weber to refer to the conjunction between, and overlapping of, causal factors in social processes’ (Grossein 2016: p. 334).  2. ‘The clan is not an element preserved in some still primitive form of state, but an institution that is rigorously synchronic with royalty’ as Alfred Adler puts it in La Mort est le masque du roi. La royauté sacrée des Moundang du Tchad (1982). Claude Tardits (1980) had reached a similar conclusion. The same applied to the state in early modern Europe (see Adams 2005).  3. On lineage societies, see Perrot (2000). The case of present-day Republic of Mali is paradigmatic in this respect. The Kounta, descendants of a lineage branch of the Qadiriyya, in the seventeenth century, who controlled trade with the oasis of Touat; the Arma, descendants of Moroccan troops who conquered Timbuktu in the sixteenth century; the Keita, descendants of the ruling family of the Malian empire; the Camara and Koroma, heirs of warrior clans; the Cisse and Toure, heirs of Islamized clans; the Kouyaté, griots, and the Kanté-Soumaoro, blacksmiths, remain relevant categories in contemporary political life. The Islamic brotherhoods are themselves based on lineages and dynasties, like the Mouridiyya, dominated by the oligarchy of the Mbacké-Mbacké, in Senegal, or the Qadiriyya movement under the Kounta obedience, in a large part of West Africa and the Sahara. One of Salafism’s forces of attraction, especially in northern Nigeria, in the eyes of subalterns or outsiders to the Hausa-Fulani establishment, is precisely its capacity to subvert this genealogical transmission of religious authority, in this case within the Qadiriyya and Tidjaniyya. Nevertheless, the Algerian jihadists of AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) in Mali, though they embrace reformed Islam, took over the lineage logic by establishing themselves in the Azawad through matrimonial alliances with the local populations, according to the custom of the desert and the practical necessities of its ecosystem.  4. See Jane I. Guyer (2004: 25–26) on the definition of the term ‘marginal’.  5. For the religious field, see Chanson, Droz, Gez and Soares (2014).  6. See in particular Guyer’s dazzling analysis of a service station in Nigeria at a time of fuel shortage, in 1997.  7. See Bayart (2009: ch. 5 and 6) on the regional scenarios of state formation, and Bayart (2009: conclusion) on the concept of the historical terroir.  8. On the imposition of norms ‘from below’ in African societies, see the important work edited by Béatrice Hibou and Boris Samuel (2011).  9. The case of demographic insecurity is particularly interesting and poorly understood. Where the West accepts the image – recently used by the French President – of the Sahel as a zone of great fertility, some of the countries that comprise this area actually foster a sense of under-fertility, which comes with a high degree of social suffering among women who feel they have been affected by infertility. See the very illuminating article by Barbara M. Cooper (2013). 10. On this non-territorial mode of domination and its political and moral economy, see Roitman (2004: 114 et seq.), and Dewière (2017) on the ‘mobile state’ (even if limited by boundary markers, in this case).

Historical Regimes of Responsibility


References Adams, J. 2005. The Familial State: Ruling Families and Merchant Capitalism in Early Modern Europe. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Adler, A. 1982. La Mort est le masque du roi: La royauté sacrée des Moundang du Tchad. Paris: Payot. Argenti, N. 2007. The Intestines of the State: Youth, Violence, and Belated Histories in the Cameroon Grassfields. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Balandier, G. 1957. Afrique ambiguë. Paris: Persée. Bayart, J.-F. 1979. L’Etat au Cameroun. Paris: Presses de la Fondation nationale des sciences politiques.  . 2000. ‘Africa in the World: A History of Extraversion’. African Affairs 99(395): 217–267.  . 2007. Global Subjects: A Political Critique of Globalization (translated by A. Brown). Cambridge: Polity Press.  . 2009 (1989). The State in Africa: The Politics of the Belly (translated by M. Harper, C. Harrison and E. Harrison). Cambridge: Polity Press.  . 2013. ‘La cité bureaucratique en Afrique subsaharienne’, in B. Hibou (ed.), La Bureaucratisation néolibérale. Paris: La Découverte, pp. 291–313. Bergson, H. 1889. Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience. Paris: Félix Alcan.  . 1911. Creative Evolution (translated by A. Mitchell). New York: Henry Holt. Berry, S. 1993. No Condition is Permanent: The Social Dynamics of Agrarian Change in Sub-Saharan Africa. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press. Beuvier, F. 2014. Danser les funérailles: Associations et lieux de pouvoir au Cameroun. Paris: Editions de l’Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales. Bierschenk, T., J.-P. Chauveau and J.-P. Olivier de Sardan (eds). 2000. Courtiers en développement: Les villages africains en quête de projets. Paris: APAD and Karthala. Bonnecase, V. 2013. ‘Politique des prix, vie chère et contestation sociale à Niamey: quels répertoires locaux de la colère?’, Politique africaine 130: 89–111. Braudel, F. 1949. La Méditerranée et le Monde méditerranéen à l’époque de Philippe II. Paris: Armand Colin. Ceriana Mayneri, A. 2014. Sorcellerie et prophétisme en Centrafrique: L’imaginaire de la dépossession en pays banda. Paris: Karthala. Chanson, P., Yvan Droz, Yonatan N. Gez and Edio Soares (eds). 2014. Mobilité religieuse: Retours croisés des Afriques aux Amériques. Paris: Karthala. Cooper, B.M. 2013. ‘De quoi la crise démographique au Sahel est-elle le nom?’ Politique africaine 130: 69–88. Debos, 2016. Living by the Gun in Chad: Combatants, Impunity and State Formation (translated by A. Brown). London: Zed Books. Deleuze, G., and F. Guattari. 1983. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (translated by R. Hurley, M. Seem and H.R. Lane). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Dewière, R. 2017. Du lac Tchad à La Mecque: Le sultanat du Borno et son monde (16e17e siècle). Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne. Dumont, L. 1977. From Mandeville to Marx: The Genesis and Triumph of Economic Ideology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Eboussi-Boulaga, F. 1977. La crise du Muntu. Paris: Présence africaine.


Jean-François Bayart

Egil, F. 2005. ‘Les éléphants de papier. Réflexions impies pour le Ve anniversaire des Objectifs de développement du Millénaire’. Politique africaine 99: 97–115.  . 2015. ‘Les Objectifs de développement durable, nouveau “Palais de cristal”’. Politique africaine 140: 99–120. Grossein, J.-P. 2016. Concepts fondamentaux de sociologie. Paris: Gallimard. Guyer, J.I. 2000. ‘La tradition de l’invention en Afrique équatoriale’, Politique africaine 79: 101–139.  . 2004. Marginal Gains: Monetary Transactions in Atlantic Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.  . 2007. ‘Africa Has Never Been “Traditional”: So Can We Make a General Case? A Response to the Articles’. African Studies Review 50(2): 183–202. Guyer, J., K. Salami and O. Akinlade. 2011. ‘“Kos’owo”: il n’y pas d’argent!’. Politique africaine 124: 43–65. Hibou, B., and B. Samuel (eds). 2011. ‘Dossier: La macroéconomie par le bas’. Politique africaine 124: 5–154. Hibou, H., and M. Tozy. 2015. ‘Une lecture wébérienne de la trajectoire de l’Etat au Maroc’. Sociétés politiques comparées 37. Retrieved 5 May 2019 from http:// Hobsbawm, E., and T. Ranger (eds). 1983. The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hopkins, A.G. 1995. ‘The “New International Order” in the Nineteenth Century: Britain’s first Development Plan for Africa’, in R. Law (ed.), From Slave Trade to ‘Legitimate’ Commerce: The Commercial Transition in Nineteenth Century West Africa. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 240–264. Iliffe J. 1987. The African Poor: A History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  . 2005. Honour in African History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Issa, S. 2004. ‘L’embuscade sur les routes des abords sud du lac Tchad’. Politique africaine 94: 82–104.  . 2010. Les Coupeurs de route. Histoire du banditisme rural et transfrontalier: le bassin du lac Tchad. Paris: Karthala. Kane, C.H. 1961. L’aventure ambiguë. Paris: Julliard. Kopytoff, I. (ed.). 1987. The African Frontier: The Reproduction of Traditional African Societies. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Last, M. 2008. ‘The Search for Security in Muslim Northern Nigeria’. Africa 78(1): 41–63. Lombard, L. 2016. State of Rebellion: Violence and Intervention in the Central African Republic. London: Zed Books. Lonsdale, J. 1981. ‘States and Social Processes in Africa: A Historiographical Survey’. African Studies Review 24(2–3): 139–226.  . 1992. ‘The Moral Economy of Mau Mau’, in B. Berman and J. Lonsdale (eds), Unhappy Valley, Book 2: Violence and Ethnicity. London: James Currey. Lüdtke, A. (ed.). 1995. The History of Everyday Life: Reconstructing Historical Experiences and Ways of Life (translated by T. William). Princeton: Princeton University Press.  . 1993. Eigen-Sinn: Fabrikalltag, Arbeiterfahrungen und Politikvom Kaiserreich bis in dem Faschismus. Hamburg: Ergebnisse.

Historical Regimes of Responsibility


 . 2000. Des ouvriers dans l’Allemagne du XXe siècle: Le quotidien des dictatures, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2000 Lydon, G. 2009. On Trans-Saharan Trails: Islamic Law, Trade Networks, and CrossCultural Exchange in Nineteenth-Century Western Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mann, G. 2015. From Empires to NGOs in the West African Sahel: The Road to Nongovernmentality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Marchal, R. 2006. ‘Tchad/Darfour: vers un système de conflits’. Politique africaine 102: 135–154. Mbembe, A. 1988. Afriques indociles: Christianisme, pouvoir et Etat en société postcoloniale. Paris: Karthala. Nubukpo, K. 2011. L’Improvisation économique en Afrique de l’Ouest: Du coton au franc CFA. Paris: Karthala. Peel, J. 1978. ‘Qlaju: A Yoruba Concept of Development’. Journal of Development Studies 14(2): 139–165.  . 2000. Religious Encounter and the Making of the Yoruba. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Perrot, C.-H. 2000. Lignages et territoire en Afrique aux XVIII° et XIX° siècles: Stratégies, compétition, intégration. Paris: Karthala. Roitman, J. 2004. Fiscal Disobedience: An Anthropology of Economic Regulation in Central Africa. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Sahlins, M. 1993. ‘Goodbye to Tristes Tropes: Ethnography in the Context of Modern World History’. The Journal of Modern History 65(1): 1–25. Scheele, J. 2012. Smugglers and Saints of the Sahara: Regional Connectivity in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tardits, C. 1980. Le Royaume bamoum. Paris: Armand Colin. Taussig, M.T. 1999. Defacement: Public Secrecy and the Labor of the Negative. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Vansina, J. 1990. Paths in the Rainforests: Toward a History of Political Tradition in Equatorial Africa. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Chapter 2

The Use(fulness) of Discourses of ‘Responsibility’ on the DRC’s ‘Sovereign Frontier’ Stylianos Moshonas



t the time of writing, in the fall of 2016, The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) finds itself at a crossroad: it faces the fast approaching due date for the expiry of president Kabila’s mandate in December and increasingly unlikely prospects for the holding of elections, in a context of rampant manoeuvring by supporters of the presidency to cling to power, coupled with the frenetic movements of a fractious coalition where preoccupations revolve around political positioning in view of a potential succession. The present contribution, rather than delving into the intricacies of this tumultuous conjuncture, proposes to take a step back with the aim of revisiting the previous period (2001–2011), during which president Kabila, drawing onto international support, managed to establish and consolidate his position of power. In so doing, the aim of this chapter is to locate the discourses and practices of invoking ‘responsibility’ – and by extension ‘sovereignty’ – in the relations between the DRC and the country’s external partners, namely international financial institutions (IFIs), the United Nations (UN) system, as well as multilateral and bilateral donors. This period spanning from 2001, date of the re-engagement of donors with the DRC, to the 2011 elections, seems to me crucial insofar as it can serve as an apposite illustration of what one could call the ‘coproduction’ of Congolese politics. This notion, drawn from the work of historian Frederick Cooper (2002: 118, 160), invites us to be skeptical

Discourses of ‘Responsibility’ on the DRC’s ‘Sovereign Frontier’


towards definitions emphasizing the ‘African’ specificity of the continent’s problems of governance; indeed, according to Cooper, issues such as the ‘gate-keeper’ dimensions of African states,1 or, for that matter, the 1980s economic crisis, are neither the product of specifically ‘African’ institutions, nor of Western impositions, but emerge out of a common and shared history, which is cogently captured by the term of coproduction. This term is employed in a similar vein here, highlighting that Congolese politics – particularly between 2001 and 2007, when the country found itself under semi-trusteeship (Willame 2007; de Villiers 2009) – was produced through the interaction of various political actors, of which the most important were the Congolese political elites, especially those gravitating around the presidency, and certain international actors, most notably those grouped within the Comité International d’Accompagnement à la Transition (CIAT).2 Indeed, the CIAT, through subtle pressures and diplomatic interventions, served as the guarantor of the Congolese transition to democratization (2003–2006) which culminated in the elections (Vircoulon 2005). Seen through this lens, this process carries important implications: the trajectory of Congolese politics since 2006 can be conceived as being in no small measure the product of a political engineering process piloted and organized by international actors, albeit one adroitly utilized by the presidency for its own ends (Tull 2010). Even though certain commentators call for recognizing that there is a ‘shared responsibility between the international community and Congolese political actors’ (Trefon 2009: 29), the approach adopted here is different. By focusing on an appraisal of the transition period as a co-production, orchestrated by international actors but navigated with equal political savvy by Congo’s ruling elite, the first part of this chapter will lay the background for an analysis of the ambiguities of international intervention in Congo. The hallmarks of this transition period were a tense political climate, exacerbated by an accelerated democratization in a militarised and war-riven context, permeated by conflicts around economic resources, a dilapidated formal and public sector and deep-seated pauperization, in which the electoral process unfolded according to the logic of winner-takes-all. These traits have led to deep contradictions within the foci of international intervention in the DRC, which Zoe Marriage (2010) has referred to as the ‘triple transition’ – primarily economic liberalization and political democratization, as well as the security transition towards peace. Focusing on the ambiguity arising out of international engagement with Congo’s political dynamics, not least the tensions arising out of the pursuit of economic liberalization and democratization, several areas


Stylianos Moshonas

of reform will be examined, such as mining, decentralization and the administration. The ambiguities at play therein provide us with ample scope to show how propitious they have been for the deployment of strategies of invoking state ‘responsibility’ and sovereignty, which have been mobilized according to distinct strategies and tactics by the national authorities and the country’s international partners. Rather than using the concept of sovereignty in the sense of a boundary, which African states either possess or fall short of (as the notions of ‘weak state’ or ‘de jure’ sovereignty suggest, Jackson and Rosberg 1982), here the term of a ‘sovereign frontier’ is employed. Drawing on the work of Graham Harrison, this concept conceives of sovereignty as a ‘zone’ shaped by the interaction of forces therein, where claims about sovereignty are made to follow from the strategic decisions of donors and state actors, in what is best conceived as an iterated game. In other words, treating sovereignty as a frontier zone invites us to investigate an array of different political practices, rather than a ‘legalistic condition’ (Harrison 2004: 25–26; Harrison 2007: 193–197). Analysing the issue of responsibility as a set of discursive practices within the politics of aid in Congo, this contribution will show that the invocation of state responsibility and sovereignty has often followed offensive or defensive patterns, whereby international actors and the Congolese authorities have been able to attribute or deflect those according to political expediency, depending on the contexts, political conflicts, or issues at hand. As such, responsibility here is treated as deriving from the attribute of sovereignty. While for the most part the chapter focuses on the relation between donors and the Congolese authorities, the analysis of discourses amenable to strategic deployment according to different registers and depending on the circumstances does allow one to explore the political conditions underpinning the production of discourses of responsibility. This also allows for a critical interrogation of the issue of (donor) accountability, which as outlined above, has acquired renewed salience in the last three decades or so through good governance programmes. The chapter proceeds as follows: the first two sections apply the concept of ‘co-production’ to Congolese politics in 2001–2007, and provide an overview of state reforms underway in which ‘responsibility’ can be traced; the third and fourth sections discuss the recent shifts in the notions of sovereignty and responsibility within the international relations of aid-dependent states, and the DRC specifically; finally, a fifth section delves into the politics of invoking these terms within the DRC’s ‘sovereign frontier’, while a conclusion draws out its implications.

Discourses of ‘Responsibility’ on the DRC’s ‘Sovereign Frontier’


The Co-production of Congolese Policy and Politics Since 2001 the DRC has been engaged in a long process of reconstruction and reform. It is with the arrival of Joseph Kabila in power, following his decision to treat the international community as a power base to counter his weak domestic position (Prunier cited in de Villers 2009b: 91), that relations with international financial institutions and donors were normalized. Economic policy, under the guidance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, was substantially liberalized, the formal end of the second Congo war (1998–2003) led to the beginning of a democratic transition, while the presence of the UN integrated mission in Congo (then MONUC, renamed MONUSCO in 2011) was reinforced. Even if fighting continued in the East, the Congo underwent a partial stabilization, with fighting militarily contained. This transition period led to the elections of 2006, with Kabila emerging as the winner, a position he was able to maintain following the next elections in 2011. This recent period, starting from 2001, has led to certain undeniable achievements: the formal end of the conflict; a real, albeit frail, stabilization; a series of successes in economic policy, such as the end of hyperinflation, a resumption of economic growth and the reinforcement of the state’s budget; and the holding of elections. These achievements are non-negligible, particularly when contrasted against the disastrous situation prevailing in the 1990s. However, there have also been several more debatable outcomes which have marked Congo’s triple transition towards liberalization, democratization and peace. Firstly, the characterization of the DRC as a ‘post-conflict’ country by donors was misleading. The prevailing context up to this day has been that of persistent conflict in the eastern part of the country, alongside with a strong militarization of politics in affected regions. In such a setting, coupled with the devastation of the economy and the public sector – the successes mentioned above notwithstanding – the intensification of electoral competition during the transition, far from ushering in a return to the rule of law and the civilianization of politics, led to several problems. To begin with, the logic driving the democratization process was above all short-term positioning ahead of the elections. Among the indications that could be cited, figure: the intensification of corruption (Kodi 2008; de Villers 2009a: 47); large budget overruns by the power-sharing government at the expense of commitments towards ‘pro-poor spending’ otherwise convened with IFIs (Omasombo and Obotela 2006: 245); the quasi-total impunity from which benefited armed actors, according to the ‘inclusive’ logic of the peace agreement; the spectacular rise in the wages and emoluments of political personnel at the expense of the


Stylianos Moshonas

army and the administration (Kabuya and Tshiunza 2008); and the fire sale of numerous mining concessions in very opaque circumstances, thereby undermining the viability of the Mining Code the World Bank had invested so much support and effort in (Marriage 2011: 1901). These perverse effects were closely linked to the choices operated by various international actors regarding the modalities of the transition: the latter, as defined in the transitional constitution and decided upon during the inter-Congolese dialogue negotiations in the wake of the end of the second Congo war, did not solely reflect dynamics between Congolese negotiating parties. They were also shaped by profound international engagement. Regarding economic policy, for instance, the major orientations were dictated by the IMF and the World Bank as early as 2001, while the conflict was ongoing; they were merely endorsed during the inter-Congolese dialogue in 2002. In fact, during those negotiations, the only object on which Congolese delegates immediately agreed was the economic programme of the government, for which 3.5 billion USD had been budgeted by donors (Willame 2002: 149). The argument here is premised on highlighting how much the Congo’s ‘development partners’ have been part and parcel of a process they frequently decried, but tacitly and continually supported. The best illustrations of this mechanism are the successive electoral victories of Joseph Kabila: the reasons behind the choice of pushing for elections in 2006, towards which donors and diplomatic actors invested so much effort in terms of keeping the transition afloat, was to establish a new political regime. The hope was that this new regime, legitimated through the ballot box, would be more attuned to press forward with state reconstruction, reforms, and the pacification of the country. The situation created by the democratic transition – whose ominous signs and perverse effects mentioned above were patent as early as 2005 – although unpalatable to the DRC’s external partners, was effectively tolerated, given the emphasis placed on the necessity of holding elections, rather than upsetting the fragile balance of the transition. However, it was clear for many observers that the organization of the elections of 2006 was ‘piloted’ from outside (Kä Mana 2006: 143; Obotela and Omasombo 2007: 136), and that Joseph Kabila was the preferred choice of the international community (Willame 2007). The 2006 election eventually opened a path for the consolidation of power by the presidency, at the expense of pluralism in the political arena, democratic and institutional reform, and allowed for several episodes of authoritarian repression, the most violent of which took place in Kongo Central Province (formerly Bas-Congo Province) in 2007 (Tull 2010; International Crisis Group 2010). In other words, in large part due to

Discourses of ‘Responsibility’ on the DRC’s ‘Sovereign Frontier’


the lack of sanctions from the international community, as much during the transition as after, whose absence was motivated by the necessity to appease a situation in which too much resources and energy had been invested, the route was open for Joseph Kabila to consolidate his hold on power. The democratic elections of 2006, conducted under the spotlight of international actors (several of whom funded the electoral process in its quasi-entirety), allowed the president to clad himself in electoral legitimacy and the respect for state sovereignty to close democratic space and deflect the criticism of the international community (Tull 2010; ICG 2010). Structural reforms, for their part, receded into the background in terms of prioritization, according to the needs of political expediency and the manoeuvres of the presidency to consolidate power, in a climate of short-term horizons and political opportunism.

The Politics of Reform: Civil Service Reform, Decentralization, Mining and the Armed Forces There has been an increasing interest in the politics of state reforms in the DRC, as suggested by several important recent studies whose conclusions tend to converge. For example, analyses of decentralization – a landmark reform enshrined in the 2006 constitution – suggest the process, whilst financially and technically supported by donors, has been conducted according to the political objectives of the Congolese authorities, dominated by political expediency and substantially subverted, at the expense of its intended goals (Englebert 2012; Gaynor 2014; Englebert and Kasongo 2016). A similar appraisal arises out of an examination of civil service reform until 2011, an area where the tensions between economic liberalization through structural reform and political democratization were glaringly apparent (Moshonas 2014). This is also one of the conclusions arising out of studies of the Congolese education sector, heavily supported by donors (De Herdt et al. 2012), the customs administration (Cuvelier and Muamba Mumbunda 2013), or security sector reform (Melmot 2009; Baaz and Stern 2013). In short, for the most part the implementations of reforms, incentivized by donor funding, have followed a logic of political expediency and recuperation, whereby administrative actors, political elites and higher authorities have managed to safeguard their positions. Nowhere are these trends better captured than in the mining sector, which due to its economic importance, can been seen in many respects as the centrepiece of donor-promoted liberalization. The mining sector’s regulatory setting, under the guidance of the World Bank, saw a drastic reorganization in 2002–2003, under the guise of the new Mining Code,


Stylianos Moshonas

premised on privatization, very favourable terms for investors and the fast growth of mineral exports to redress the Congolese economy (Mazalto 2009a: 172). However, despite some limited progress in terms of macroeconomic growth and boosting state revenue, a number of problems have beset this strategy, namely: plundering of Gécamines assets by Congolese officials and private partners (ibid.: 177); the fire sale of concessions in obscure circumstances during the transition and 2011 pre-electoral period (Marriage 2011: 1901; Stearns 2011: 339–340); rampant corruption and the diversion of up to one third of mining revenue (Marysse and Tshimanga 2014); and the exclusion of artisanal miners and the wider population from the positive effects of extroverted mining growth (Mazalto 2009b). Much of the impetus behind such donor-promoted reforms has been closely tied to the drive to instil ‘good governance’ in post-conflict settings according to the refashioned template in vogue since the early 2000s (Cramer 2006, chapter 7; Harrison 2004; Chandler 2010). The exact modalities via which such reforms are promoted varies of course; for example, in the education sector, the rationale of a key donor such as the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) has been premised on ‘delivering a peace dividend for poor people’ (palpable improvements in service delivery as a result of peace and elections), via the reconstitution of a social contract reconciling expectations between the state and population, through which legitimacy could be restored (De Herdt 2012: 681–682). In security sector reform, through a raft of interventions, material support, but mostly training, the thrust has been to render both the supposedly ‘failed’ Congolese state and its agents ‘responsible’ so that the armed forces start operating according to the ideal of modern state sovereignty (Baaz and Stern 2013: 198). In practice, as the examples provided above suggest, donor-promoted reforms in the DRC – despite the profoundly political domain of intervention – are mostly addressed through technical assistance, whereby the ills afflicting particular sectors are conceived as ‘problems of corruption or organisation’ and addressed as ‘management issues, not as politics or conflict’ (Marriage 2010: 368). There are indications this may be changing in recent years, in part through the rising influence of ‘going with the grain’ approaches in international development (Booth and Cammack 2013), whereby more is done to incorporate political economy analyses in development programmes (DfID is a good case in point). However, it remains that – in no small part due to the ability of the Congolese national authorities to employ the defensive invocation of state sovereignty – there are limits to the scope for donors to do so, which in turn carries strong implications for an analysis of the uses to which discourses of ‘responsibility’ and sovereignty are put.

Discourses of ‘Responsibility’ on the DRC’s ‘Sovereign Frontier’


Sovereignty and Responsibility in the International Politics of Aid It is worth pausing here to locate the particular notion of ‘sovereignty’ operationalized in such interventions. As suggested by scholarship on the international relations prevailing in sites of intervention within nonWestern states, where the principle of ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) has been invoked (Chandler 2008; 2009), sovereignty in such settings is no longer conceived as a ‘right to self-government’ but as a capacity to be ‘enhanced’ (Chandler 2008: 346); sovereignty ambiguously but effectively becomes both the object of intervention as well as its end goal. This shift has important implications for the associated notion of ‘responsibility’. Historically, the concept of ‘responsibility’ has frequently been invoked in international relations as a justification for interventions in many parts the globe, for instance by the US during the cold war (Harrison 2004: 133); even if the justification has frequently failed to live up to its mark, the utilization of the notion of ‘responsibility’ has had far reaching consequences, including in central Africa. Rwanda, for example, has abundantly made use of the international community’s failure to uphold its responsibilities towards the prevention of the crime of genocide, through what Filip Reyntjens has called the use of ‘genocide credit’, not least as a source of legitimacy adroitly employed to escape condemnation and deflect criticisms with regards to its involvement in the Congolese wars (Reyntjens 2004). When it comes to its reconceptualization as part of R2P, however, the notion has undergone a shift away from responsibilization. Indeed, R2P has ‘recast the right of intervention accruing to Western military actors as the “responsibility to protect” and shift[ed] the focus away from the interveners to the objects of intervention’ (Chandler 2009: 29). Following Chandler, this implies a paradox, in the sense that the R2P principle, counter-intuitively, carries less responsibility for Western states in terms of intervention – particularly in locales such as subSaharan Africa, which have experienced a loss of strategic significance in the post-cold war period (ibid.: 29). Re-defined as a normative question of state capacity, namely the ability of a state to protect its population, R2P has been accompanied by a drive to ‘internationalise responsibility for relationship management with the post-colonial world on the basis of indirect forms of regulation’ within non-Western states (ibid.: 38), of which post-conflict state-building is but a striking manifestation. Despite the rhetoric of ‘partnership’ and shared responsibility, in practice this has effectively allowed international actors and institutions to discharge themselves of the latter with regards to the implications of


Stylianos Moshonas

their interventions, insofar as responsibility for outcomes are frequently displaced onto the recipient state (due to ‘corruption’ or ‘lack of political will’, to name but two of the most frequently evoked narrative tropes). In other words, the change introduced by R2P in tandem with what Chandler calls the political economy of ‘liberal interventionism’ consists of an ‘off-load[ing of] responsibility onto non-Western states at the same time as these states increasingly lose their policymaking authority’ (Chandler 2008: 342). In the name of sovereignty as the ‘capacity of [these] states for good governance’, which is a quality to be enhanced and one implying responsibilities more than rights, the more a given intervention is far-reaching, ‘the more the target state is held to be responsible and accountable for the consequences of [state-building] practices’ (ibid.: 346). This is achieved even as the international actors, institutions, donors and policy advisers pushing for these interventions all but avoid political responsibility and accountability for their prescriptions and actions (ibid.: 353).

Partnership without Responsibility? Concretely speaking, however, how do the above theoretical reflections, as well as the notion of an iterated game between state and international actors unfolding within the DRC’s ‘sovereign frontier’, advance our understanding of the uses of ‘responsibility’ as a discursive device embodied in the practices of development interventions? To begin answering this question, a good starting point consists in distinguishing between at least two phases within aid politics in the DRC. The period from 2001 to 2007, when the DRC found itself under a process of guided transition largely steered by the diplomatic pressures applied by the CIAT, is best understood as a regime of ‘semi-trusteeship’ (Willame 2007; de Villers 2009c). However, with the election of Joseph Kabila, and the latter’s solid affirmation of the country’s sovereignty, international engagement has been much more circumspect, and largely carried through via technical assistance in the reform of Congo’s governance system (ICG 2010: 3), a qualification that applies to this day. Bearing this important temporal sequence in mind, the notion of ‘responsibility’ has been deployed in several ways. Additionally, these two phases within the politics of aid in Congo, 2001–2006 and 2006–2011, can be further qualified. Hugo De Vries (2015), in his analysis of MONUSCO’s role in the stabilization of Eastern Congo, has admirably demonstrated the cyclical, ebbing and flowing nature of the government’s engagement with the peace process in Eastern Congo

Discourses of ‘Responsibility’ on the DRC’s ‘Sovereign Frontier’


and the UN mission. De Vries notes how in periods when the government has limited manoeuvring space, such as in 2012–2013 when the M23 rebel movement steadily advanced, even capturing Goma in November 2012, it tended to lead towards cooperation with the international community out of necessity. In contrast, the period of optimism that came in the wake of the defeat of the M23 rebel movement in late 2013/early 2014, was followed by disengagement from the international community, the halting of necessary reforms, and consolidation of presidential power (ibid.: 4, 15–16). This trend can be generalized further to encompass the wider setting of aid politics in Congo: since the arrival of Joseph Kabila in power, one underlying tendency has been that close working relationships between the regime, donors and diplomatic actors seem to exist in periods where the bargaining power of the ruling elite is at its lowest. Several such moments of vulnerability can be identified: Joseph Kabila’s arrival in power in 2001, the immediate post-electoral period of 2011 (the appointment of a technocratic government headed by Augustin Matata Ponyo in 2012 can be interpreted as a concession towards foreign actors), and following De Vries, the period leading up to the defeat of M23. Conversely, once a more secure position is attained, there is a pronounced distancing – accompanied by a rhetoric emphasizing state sovereignty – of international donors and diplomatic actors away from decision-making; again, the period after the 2006 elections, and the period after the defeat of the M23 are good cases in point. Where does this leave us with regards to the issue of responsibility in Congo? A useful starting point for a discussion of responsibility is to recognize that the prescription of particular courses of action – such as the path towards liberalization and democratization charted by international partners and donors in Congo – involves a responsibility for their outcomes, including when these do not amount to successes (Stokke 1995: 36–37). As Stokke reminded us, ‘no donor government (or multilateral agency) has so far taken full responsibility vis-à-vis recipient countries for the effects resulting from their prescriptions’ (ibid.). Several observers have noted that the current regime in Kinshasa is the product of a process largely engineered by the international community (Willame 2007; Tull 2010; Trefon 2011); that Congolese participation has actively contributed to shaping the outcome does not in any way absolve the Congo’s international partners from responsibility. On the contrary, whilst responsibility is positively claimed by the Congo’s partners in instances of success, such as the holding of elections in 2006, it is much less so when failure descends into the politics of blame. This has implications for discourses invoking ‘success’ in political processes and the ‘failure’ of reforms, where sovereignty and responsibility


Stylianos Moshonas

feature prominently. As Mosse reminds us, from the point of view of the ethnography of development, the key question is not so much whether development projects ‘work’ or ‘succeed’ but rather how ‘success’ is produced (Mosse 2005: 8). Insofar as both the periods of optimism (such as the one enveloping the 2006 elections) and the periods of disengagement produce and sustain different narratives, the pessimism that often taints accounts of Congo’s institutional reforms can be situated along the ebb and flow of the regime’s responsiveness to engagement by international actors. In that respect, 2007 heralds a shift towards increasingly critical discourses with regards to the state reform process. In his account of Congo’s aid-promoted state reforms, Theodore Trefon speaks of ‘shared responsibility’ between the government and international actors in what he largely considers ‘reform failure’ (Trefon 2009; 2011). Leaving aside the issue of how well this vision of aid politics in Congo captures underlying trends,3 one may wonder whether the seemingly straightforward view of a ‘shared responsibility’ does justice to the outcomes of what we have called in this chapter the ‘co-production’ of Congolese politics and policy. For instance, Séverine Autesserre (2010: 182), in her concluding analysis of the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, including its interventions as part of the CIAT in terms of setting the parameters of the transition calendar in 2003–2006, offers an interesting counterpoint. Reflecting on how the overarching preoccupation of international actors in the transition was the holding of elections at all costs – even at the expense of the fight against impunity, the fight for justice and at the cost of sky-rocketing degrees of corruption – Autesserre argues that other avenues were available to the Congo’s international partners: the prioritizing of peace or justice instead of ‘delusory democracy’; postponing the vote by several years to allow the creation of an environment better suited to fairer and more meaningful elections; and an emphasis on reconstructing key aspects of the state such as the administration, fostering civil education and civil liberties, buttressing the credibility and capacity of democratically chosen leaders, etc. (ibid.: 182–183). The objective of elections was chosen precisely because it appeared as a challenge more manageable than the reconstruction of the state or the achievement of peace, and because it was seen as a sine qua non for the above: it was hoped that an interlocutor validated through the ballot box would help address these issues more comprehensively than allowed for by the fragmented transitional political order. Subsequent evolutions proved that this condition was by no means sufficient, and in this respect the responsibility of foreign actors remains whole. This responsibility is even more evident in the economic and policy realm, where directions have been defined early on by external actors

Discourses of ‘Responsibility’ on the DRC’s ‘Sovereign Frontier’


and acquiesced to by the authorities given the extremely low bargaining power they disposed of in 2001 after the assassination of Laurent Désiré Kabila. State reforms have been designed and pushed forward by donors through the incentive of funding, without appropriate follow-up and with sharply defective outcomes. The explicit target of reforms has been the dysfunctions of the Congolese state, and they have been tackled through the largely depoliticized tool of programme/project aid and technical assistance. In line with David Chandler’s appraisal of liberal peacebuilding, when the outcomes of reforms have fallen short of expectations, the failure of the endeavour is blamed upon the shortcomings of the state, the lack of political will, ownership, or common vision of the political leadership. Given that engagement by donors with the Congolese state (which is both the target of intervention and the objective pursued in a (re)constructed form), due to the constraints tied to diplomatic relations with a sovereign state, takes place through the muted tool of development assistance, this is not so surprising. The implications are, however, that responsibility is completely avoided in the process – whatever fails to function falls back on Congolese shortcomings; and moreover, the accountability of donors towards their purported recipients is conspicuous by its absence, even as the rhetoric of ‘shared responsibility’ grants them heightened powers of intervention in the definition of recipient states’ policies (Whitfield and Fraser 2009: 3).

The Uses of Sovereignty along the DRC’s ‘Sovereign Frontier’ If international actors are quick to point out, whenever faced with the issue of intervention in Congo, that their hands are tied insofar as the Congolese state must assume its responsibilities vis-à-vis its population,4 what about the discourses and practices emanating from the Congolese authorities? Here, a range of uses can be distinguished, from the defensive invocation of state sovereignty to the offensive clamouring of donor responsibility towards their engagements. To begin with, as recognized by several scholars, the Congolese authorities tend to shove responsibility for reconstruction and the funding of development efforts, since 2001, to international actors, whether in the area of public health (massively funded by donors) or environmental protection (where dozens of international NGOs are active) (Kennes 2005: 178; Trefon 2011: 10). This abdication by the authorities, in no small part deriving from the expansive role of aid which has provided, inter alia between 2001 and 2011, up to one third of the state’s budget (40 per cent in 2005, RDC 2010: 124), is not lost on the Congolese; particularly among lower-level state officials, one can


Stylianos Moshonas

frequently encounter discourses calling for the ‘international community’ to live up to its engagements – whether in providing aid, material support, or even the direct payment of wages as part of development programmes (or short of this, the application of pressures onto the government to live up to its own responsibilities of remunerating its personnel).5 For example, in the Congolese education sector, where several major donors are active, teachers countrywide have solicited the World Bank to at least pay their end-of-career allowances, and persistent rumours circulated in the mid-2000s that the World Bank was going to commit to paying teacher pensions (Verhaghe 2006: 35–37). Such discourses ‘from below’, in fact, can be traced down to colonial, and later, development policy – particularly inasmuch as they are tinged with paternalist overtones (Rubbers 2013) – showing actors can invoke responsibility by drawing on different registers depending on the circumstances (also see Rubbers 2009; 2010). There are, to be sure, important differentiations to be made across categories of actors. The rhetoric emanating from regime politicians is frequently deployed along a very different register. Among the most eloquent tenors of the defensive invocation of sovereignty is certainly Lambert Mende, the long-standing Congolese minister for communications and media, a position he has held since 2008. His declarations invariably enshrine him as the government spokesperson and guardian of Congolese sovereignty – which has been quite effective in terms of deflecting criticism and attacking international actors for what are considered blatant attacks on government prerogatives. For example, in June 2015, following remarks by the head of MONUSCO, Martin Kobler, that free and fair elections should be held in line with Resolution 2211 of the UN Security Council and in respect of the Congolese Constitution, minister Mende denounced this undue interference and retorted that ‘electoral matters are a matter of state sovereignty’ (cited in Bouvier and Omasombo 2016: 24). In recent years, MONUSCO appears to be the greatest victim of this iterated game: bound by its mandate of assisting the Congolese state, MONUSCO is either accused of being unwittingly complicit with the state’s violations of its responsibilities towards the population (the critique from without), or of failing its duties towards the Congolese state (the critique from within). As such, it has served the purpose of being the ultimate punching bag for all participants (see De Vries 2015: 11–12, 31). Clamouring for donor responsibility towards their engagements – and especially their financial and aid-related engagements – takes place in a different register. This sort of rhetoric is mostly deployed in international forums dealing with the issue of development funding, heavily influenced by the principles outlined in the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness (especially the principles of alignment, harmonization and

Discourses of ‘Responsibility’ on the DRC’s ‘Sovereign Frontier’


mutual accountability).6 The proceedings of the Kinshasa Forum on Aid Efficiency, which took place in June 2009, provide ample examples of this discursive register: it is replete with development industry buzzwords – ranging from the rhetoric of ‘shared responsibility’ and ‘mutual accountability’ with donors, calling upon the country’s development partners to respect their engagements, to more veiled insinuations that this kind of partnership may not be entirely balanced and ought to be redressed (RDC/Ministère du Plan 2009). Indeed, it should not be forgotten that the terrain on which such claims unfold is traversed by deep ambiguities: the declarations of senior government officials deployed through a tone of cajoling advocacy and compliance to international agendas, which abide by the conventional tactics of international ‘chequebook diplomacy’ (Mushi 1995, cited in Harrison et al. 2009: 291), should by no means be taken at face value, and at any rate are quite different from the viewpoints of Congolese scholars working as consultants for international aid agencies. Evidence of such disjunctures was very visible in the 2009 National Report on Human Development in the DRC, written by a team of Congolese social scientists, under the supervision of a steering committee with the technical support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Containing historical reflections alongside a diagnosis for the crisis of Congo and its current predicament, the report had some bizarre analytical traits, bordering on the schizophrenic: on the one hand, it castigated the failure of the accumulation model inherited from colonization, suggested refusing an extroverted model of development favouring cash crops and minerals for export7 and warned that such a policy would probably appear suicidal, if unaccompanied by the firm political will to govern differently (RDC and PNUD 2008: 107); on the other, the same report also postulates that “the liberal option” chosen by the government, consists in the best option given the country’s indebtedness and poverty (ibid.: 136), while praising the liberalization of economic activity since 2001, and promoting private-sector led growth as the basis for sustainable development (ibid.: 26). Although the analysis so far has been confined to the issue of sovereignty/responsibility between donors and Congolese politicians, the related issue of the responsibility and accountability of each set of actors to their publics also invites some qualification. Indeed, the seeming ‘irresponsibility’ in the implementation of aid-promoted state reforms cannot be understood without taking into consideration relations of (un)accountability towards their constituencies. In the case of many donors, responsibility to their electorates with regards to aid funds is usually mediated through media exposure and focused on delivering


Stylianos Moshonas

‘developmental’ outcomes and value for money, with a conspicuous lack of accountability towards recipients. In the case of the Congolese authorities, even though responsibilities towards the population are invariably emphasized in official discourses, in practice – as suggested by the paltry track record of institutional reforms highlighted above – clientelist and patronage-type arrangements, via which the presidency rules whilst also being beholden, seem to define the implementation of policy. However, one may well ask what the implications of the above discussion are – the argument advanced here is that the uses of the notions of sovereignty and responsibility are deployed within a highly contested frontier, the fraught terrain of Congolese aid politics. As this chapter has suggested, this has been the locus where the trajectory of Congolese politics has been defined, not least due to the aid dependency that characterizes the country, and the adroit manoeuvring abilities of the authorities. As such, the implications here are that the precise apportioning of responsibility, moulded on the DRC’s ‘sovereign frontier’, matters less than the effects of the tactics and strategies according to which it is deployed, which have produced particular political configurations, most notably a progressive consolidation of the Kabila regime in the years 2006–2011, even if the unstable coalition on which it is based seems in the last few years increasingly poised to unravel. Furthermore, severe consequences follow from this state of affairs. Despite the furore stirred by the iterated game of invoking sovereignty/ responsibility in the noisy realm of media and international public attention, Congo’s relations with Western international actors, for all practical purposes, are marked by a conspicuous absence of effective responsibility, and certainly accountability. As Chandler puts it in relation to R2P’s paradoxical consequences, ‘in effect, no one becomes responsible’ (2009: 38). However, without responsibility or accountability, little stands in the way of the continuation of presents trends. The lack of responsibility blocks the way to reflexive thinking over the implications of engagement, past, present and future; the absence of accountability prevents the questioning of current practice and stands in the path of changes in policy and strategy towards more meaningful engagement with the Congolese elite, administration and population.

Conclusion The perspective outlined in this chapter suggests that, for the period 2001–2011, donor–recipient aid relations in the DRC are best understood as a series of compromises and accommodations arising from the

Discourses of ‘Responsibility’ on the DRC’s ‘Sovereign Frontier’


association between international partners and domestic elites, whereby the Congolese authorities and donors were locked into a marriage of convenience, albeit for different reasons. For the authorities, the funds supplied by donors provided a significant resource, both a source of accumulation and a crucial support for state and public service provision, which facilitated an abdication of responsibility from core functions – however displeasing this may have been for donors and detrimental to the operations of development projects and programmes. For the Congo’s external partners, the reasons underpinning sustained involvement included the considerable international investment the country has received – diplomatic, financial, security-related and so on – which has raised the stakes represented by the DRC. There were also fears of a new round of regional instability which a relapse into large-scale war would create, and even perhaps – if one follows the remarks of several authors (de Villers 2009c: 233; Marriage 2010) – some preoccupations over having influence over, and regulating access to, the country’s huge natural resource wealth, from its forests to minerals and hydro-electric potential, which the forceful arrival of China since 2007 has exacerbated. In this respect, the reforms accommodated the Congolese authorities, which adroitly navigated the deep-seated contradictions traversing patterns of international engagement, and derived substantial advantages from association with external actors – from the bestowal of international legitimacy to development aid, to the general strengthening of the position of elites. The uses of discourses of sovereignty and responsibility by international actors and the Congolese authorities, in that sense, are a constitutive part of a regime of responsibility along Congo’s sovereign frontier: structured by apparatuses of power (among which are the aid industry and its associated technologies, Congo’s domestic political economy and their interactions), such discourses are deployed along different registers, and showcase interactions involving conflicts, alignments and compromises. However, as argued in this chapter, they are overall less indicative of power struggles between antagonistic actors, than they are discursive tropes deployed in an iterated game underlying a set of practices which for all practical purposes, renders the concept of responsibility without meaning. A small parenthesis can help provide some historical depth to this appraisal: this detour suggests a certain diachronic continuity in the management of state matters in Congo, underlining the extent to which appropriation process are at play, and in which the notion of ‘extraversion’ (Bayart 2000) appears important. During the days of the Belgian Congo, one of the tenets attributed to colonial circles was the famous adage ‘no elites, no problems’ (Illife 2007: 230). This was in a sense revealing of


Stylianos Moshonas

the attitude of a large part of colonial authorities, according to which political stability in Congo was essential to the rational ‘mise en valeur’ of the colony (Peemans 1997). Interestingly, this is the sort of argument one can find in Mobutu’s speeches, whose notorious diatribes against the perverse effects of Belgian colonialism were deployed in astute strategic ways according to the vicissitudes of Belgo–Congolese relations. Indeed, Mobutu often stressed that Zaire knew no political problems, only economic ones; similarly, Zaire was not a developing country, but a ‘pays en voie d’équipement’ (Mobutu 1989). In the wake of the 1974 collapse of copper prices, and the economic crisis that ensued, Zaire found itself under the multilateral dependency of the IMF; the diagnosis of that institution for Zaire consisted in pinpointing the mismanagement of the state. This IMF diagnosis, which paralleled Zaire’s own appraisal during the 1973 administrative reform, was wholeheartedly adopted by the Zairian government. The solution to the crisis, therefore, would be administrative and organizational change, carried forward by means of managerial modernization. Ultimately, the problem according to this view, was of a technical nature, amenable to a technical fix (Nzongola-Ntalaja 2002: 152). In a cold war context, wherein Zaire retained strategic importance, this provided Mobutu with the latitude to weather the storm of the structural adjustment years, admittedly at a very high cost as far as the future of the country was concerned. Given the amnesia that characterizes international aid agencies, it is not surprising to see this type of scenario perpetuated in the DRC, particularly when the bureaucratic and political pressures affecting donors are taken into account. In Mobutu’s days as today, we encounter a situation whereby the significance of the stakes in Congo, attracting a strong international presence and engagements under the guise of financial inflows, provides an important manoeuvring space for the presidential camp, and political elites more largely, in the pursuit of accumulation and power consolidation. It should be recognized that in such a context, the factors that underpin the perpetuation of the donor–recipient iterated game, whose net result is the evacuation of responsibility and accountability with regards to outcomes, are not about to disappear. For the country’s external partners, a discourse calling for the national authorities to uphold the duties associated with sovereignty and their responsibilities towards ‘good governance’ allows them to discharge themselves of facing the consequences of their initiatives, all the while providing a strong justification for their interventions. For the presidential camp, whether it is the question of the war in the east, the organization of the elections, or institutional reforms, the same notion of sovereignty allows them to simultaneously

Discourses of ‘Responsibility’ on the DRC’s ‘Sovereign Frontier’


defend against what are seen as violations of the country’s independence, and to call for their external partners to uphold their engagements. As Zoe Marriage (2011) reminds us, however, it should not be forgotten that in both the case of Mobutu’s Zaire and Kabila’s Third Republic, this association between domestic and international actors has typically been constructed at the expense of its purported beneficiaries, the largely excluded Congolese population. Over the last few years, even as major international donors are increasingly facing up to the prospect that the same Kabila who seemed a safe bet in terms of providing a legitimate counterpart is rapidly losing this dependability, the history of candidates favoured by the West for supreme office in Congo has shown a marked preference for stability over anything else.8 It remains to be seen whether this preference can someday be reconciled with the interests of the Congolese more widely. Stylianos Moshonas is Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute of Development Policy (IOB), University of Antwerp. His research focuses on the politics of aid and the political economy of public sector reforms, primarily in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Notes  1. This notion refers to the tendency of African states to derive their power and revenue from the outside, most notably from control over exports and imports, rather than from inward-oriented patterns of taxation.  2. This body regrouped the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, alongside Angola, Belgium, Canada, Gabon, South Africa and Zambia, as well as three international organizations (the African Union, the European Union and the UN mission in Congo, then MONUC).  3. For a critical assessment of Trefon’s work, see Moshonas (2013), as well as the discussion in Baaz and Stern (2013: 207–209).  4. This sort of declaration calling for the Congolese state to live up to its responsibilities, from ensuring the rule of law to paying its personnel, can be found in a myriad of places, from donor documentation to advocacy reports. For an indicative example, see the declaration of Johnnie Carson from the Bureau of African Affairs of the Brookings Institution in Washington, available at: htm [consulted on 30 August 2016].  5. This point is based on as yet unpublished research, which the author carried out for the UK Department for International Development in 2016, on payroll issues in the Congolese health sector. A recurrent plea, especially by health workers at the lower rungs of the hierarchy, was for donors to step in either directly or indirectly to improve


Stylianos Moshonas

remuneration issues – a readily recognisable discourse in aid-dependent states where financial flows are important.  6. The Paris Declaration, adopted in 2005, and elaborated upon in subsequent international meetings, lays out a series of principles to improve aid effectiveness: ownership, alignment, harmonization, managing for results and mutual accountability. A good discussion can be found in Fraser and Whitfield (2009).  7. In that respect, one could readily detect the influence of the seminal work of the Congolese radical political economist and senior UNDP official Justin Mbaya Kankwenda (1993, 2000) behind the analytical framework used, even though he did not participate in the drafting of the report.  8. International support for Tshisekedi as president in the early 1990s, during the days of the Sovereign National Conference, proved extremely lukewarm and ambivalent (Nzongola-Ntalaja 2002); the same could be said for the 2011 elections where he stood as candidate.

References Autesserre, S. 2010. The Trouble with the Congo: Local Violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Baaz, M.E., and M. Stern. 2013. ‘Willing Reform? An Analysis of Defence Reform Initiatives in the DRC’, in A. Bigsten (ed.), Globalization and Development: Rethinking Interventions and Governance. London: Routledge, pp. 193–212. Bayart, J.F. 2000. ‘Africa in the World: A History of Extraversion’, African Affairs 99(395): 217–267. Booth, D., and D.R. Cammack. 2013. Governance for Development in Africa: Solving Collective Action Problems. London: Zed Books. Bouvier, P., and J. Omasombo Tshonda. 2016. ‘2015: année électorale en perdition’, in S. Marysse and J. Omasombo Tshonda (eds), Conjonctures congolaises 2015: Entre incertitudes politiques et transformation économique. Tervuren and Paris: Cahiers Africains and L’Harmattan, pp. 13–46. Chandler, D. 2008. ‘Post-Conflict Statebuilding: Governance Without Government’, in M. Pugh, N. Cooper and M. Turner (eds), Whose Peace? Critical Perspectives on the Political Economy of Peacebuilding. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 337–355.  . 2009. ‘Unravelling the Paradox of “The Responsibility to Protect”’, Irish Studies in International Affairs 20: 27–39.  . 2010. International Statebuilding: The Rise of Post-liberal Governance. London: Routledge. Cooper, F. 2002. Africa Since 1940: The Past of the Present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cramer, C. 2006. Civil War is Not a Stupid Thing: Accounting for Violence in Developing Countries. London: Hurst and Company. Cuvelier, J., and P. Muamba Mumbunda. 2013. ‘Réforme douanière néolibérale, fragilité étatique et pluralisme normatif. Le cas du guichet unique à Kasumbalesa’, Politique Africaine 129: 93–112.

Discourses of ‘Responsibility’ on the DRC’s ‘Sovereign Frontier’


De Herdt, T., K. Titeca and I. Wagemaekers. 2012. ‘Make Schools, not War? Donors’ Rewriting of the Social Contract in the DRC’, Development Policy Review 30(6): 681–701. de Villers, G. 2009a. République Démocratique du Congo: De la guerre aux élections. L’ascension de Joseph Kabila et la naissance de la Troisième République (janvier 2001– août 2008). Tervuren and Paris: Cahiers Africains and L’Harmattan.  . 2009b. ‘Les trois présidences de Joseph Kabila. Vertus et limites d’une stratégie de l’extraversion’, in S. Marysse, F. Reyntjens and S. Vandeginste (eds), L’Afrique des Grands Lacs. Annuaire 2008–2009. Paris: L’Harmattan, pp. 89–103.  . 2009c. ‘Pouvoirs et impuissance d’un régime de semi-tutelle internationale’, in T. Trefon (ed.), Réforme au Congo (RDC): Attentes et désillusions. Tervuren and Paris: Cahiers Africains and L’Harmattan, pp. 231–242. de Vries, H. 2015. Going Around in Circles: The Challenges of Peacekeeping and Stabilization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Hague: Clingendael – Netherlands Institute of International Relations, CRU report. Englebert, P. 2012. ‘Incertitude, autonomie et parasitisme: les entités territoriales décentralisées et l’État en République démocratique du Congo’, Politique africaine 125: 169–188. Englebert, P., and E. K. Kasongo. 2016. ‘Misguided and Misdiagnosed: The Failure of Decentralization Reforms in the DR Congo’, African Studies Review 59(1): 5–32. Fraser, A., and L. Whitfield. 2009. ‘Understanding Contemporary Aid Relationships’ in L. Whitfield (ed.), The Politics of Aid: African Strategies for Dealing with Donors. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 74–107. Gaynor, N. 2014. ‘Challenges to Decentralisation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Beyond the Political Settlement’. Journal of International Development 28: 198–213. Harrison, G. 2004. The World Bank and Africa: The Construction of Governance States. London and New York: Routledge.  . 2007. ‘Debt, Development and Intervention in Africa: The Contours of a Sovereign Frontier’, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 1(2): 189–209. Harrison, G., S. Mulley and D. Holton. 2009. ‘Tanzania: A Genuine Case of Recipient Leadership in the Aid System?’, in L. Whitfield (ed.), The Politics of Aid: African Strategies for Dealing with Donors. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 271–298. Iliffe, J. 1995. Africans: The History of a Continent. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. International Crisis Group. 2010. Congo: l’enlisement du projet démocratique. Nairobi and Brussels: Policy Briefing Afrique No. 73. Jackson, R.H., and C.G. Rosberg. 1982. ‘Why Africa’s Weak States Persist: The Empirical and the Juridical in Statehood’, World Politics 35(1): 1–24. Kabuya Kalala, F., and T. Mbiye. 2008. ‘Gouvernance postélectorale et enjeux de stabilisation et de redistribution en RDC’, in S. Marysse, F. Reyntjens and S. Vandeginste (eds), L’Afrique des Grands Lacs: Annuaire 2007-2008. Paris: L’Harmattan, pp. 269–286.


Stylianos Moshonas

Kä Mana. 2006. ‘En finir avec les démocraties de façade’, Congo-Afrique 405: 140–150. Kankwenda Mbaya, J. 2000. Marabouts ou marchands du développement en Afrique? Paris and Montréal: L’Harmattan. Kankwenda Mbaya, J., and A.K. Armah. 1993. Zaire: What Destiny? Dakar: Codesria. Kennes, E. 2005. ‘The Mining Sector in Congo: The Victim or the Orphan of Globalization?’, in S. Marysse and F. Reyntjens (eds), The Political Economy of the Great Lakes Region in Africa. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 152–189. Kodi, M. 2008. Corruption and Governance in the DRC During the Transition Period. Pretoria: Institute for Security Studies. Marriage, Z. 2010. ‘Congo Co: Aid and Security’, Conflict, Security & Development 10(3): 353–377.  . 2011. ‘Divisive “Commonality”: State and Insecurity in the Democratic Republic of Congo’, Third World Quarterly 32(10): 1891–1910. Marysse, S., and C. Tshimanga. 2014. ‘Les “trous noirs” de la rente minière en RDC’, in S. Marysse and J. Omasombo Tshonda (eds), Conjonctures Congolaises 2013: Percée sécuritaire, flottements politiques et essor économique. Tervuren and Paris: Cahiers Africains and L’Harmattan, pp. 131–168. Mazalto, M. 2009a. ‘De la réforme du secteur minier à celle de l’Etat’, in T. Trefon (ed.), Réforme au Congo (RDC): Attentes et désillusions. Tervuren and Paris: Cahiers Africains and L’Harmattan, pp. 171–189.  . 2009b. ‘Governance, Human Rights and Mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo’, in B. Campbell (ed.), Mining in Africa: Regulation and Development. London and New York: Pluto Press, pp. 187–242. Melmot, S. 2008. ‘Candide in Congo: The Expected Failure of Security Sector Reform (SSR)’, Focus stratégique 9: 1–29. Mobutu Sese Seko. 1989. Dignité pour l’Afrique. Entretiens avec Jean-Louis Remilleux. Paris: Albin Michel. Moshonas, S. 2013. ‘Looking Beyond Reform Failure in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Review of African Political Economy 40(135): 132–140.  . 2014. ‘The Politics of Civil Service Reform in the Democratic Republic of Congo’, The Journal of Modern African Studies 52(2): 251–276. Mosse, D. 2005. Cultivating Development: An Ethnography of Aid Policy and Practice. London: Pluto Press. Nzongola-Ntalaja, G. 2002. The Congo from Leopold to Kabila: A People’s History. London and New York: Zed Books. Omasombo Tshonda, J., and N. Obotela Rashidi. 2006. ‘La “dernière” transition politique en RDC’, in F. Reyntjens and S. Marysse (eds), L’Afrique des Grands Lacs: dix ans de transitions conflictuelles. Annuaire 2005-2006. Paris: L’Harmattan, pp. 233–259. Obotela Rashidi, N., and J. Omasombo Tshonda. 2007. ‘De la fin des “composantes” à l’hégémonie par les élections en RDC’, in S. Marysse, F. Reyntjens and S. Vandeginste (eds), L’Afrique des Grands Lacs: Annuaire 2006–2007. Paris: L’Harmattan, pp. 135–163. Peemans, J.-P. 1997. Le Congo-Zaïre au Gré du XXe Siècle: État, Economie, Société 1880–1990. Paris: L’Harmattan.

Discourses of ‘Responsibility’ on the DRC’s ‘Sovereign Frontier’


RDC. 2010. Rapport National des Progrès des OMD. Kinshasa: Gouvernement de la République Démocratique du Congo. RDC and PNUD. 2008. République Démocratique du Congo: Rapport National sur le Développement Humain 2008. Restrauration de la paix et reconstruction. Kinshasa: Gouvernement de la République Démocratique du Congo. RDC/Ministère du Plan. 2009. Actes du Forum sur l’Efficacité de l’Aide (Kinshasa, 15 et 16 Juin 2009). Kinshasa: Gouvernement de la République Démocratique du Congo. Reyntjens, F. 2004. ‘Rwanda, Ten Years On: From Genocide to Dictatorship. African Affairs 103(411): 177–210. Rubbers, B. 2009. ‘The Story of a Tragedy: How People in Haut-Katanga Interpret the Post-colonial History of Congo’, Journal of Modern African Studies 47(2): 267–289.  . 2010. ‘Claiming Workers’ Rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo: The Case of the Collectif des Ex-agents de la Gécamines’, Review of African Political Economy 37(125): 329–344.  . 2013. Le paternalisme en question: Les anciens ouvriers de la Gécamines face à la libéralisation du secteur minier katangais (R.D. Congo). Paris: L’Harmattan. Stokke, O. 1995. ‘Aid and Political Conditionality: Core Issues and State of the Art’, in O. Stokke (ed.), Aid and Political Conditionality. London: Frank Cass, pp. 1–87. Trefon, T. 2009. ‘Introduction: Réforme et désillusions’, in T. Trefon (ed.), Réforme au Congo (RDC). Attentes et désillusions. Tervuren and Paris: Cahiers Africains and L’Harmattan, pp. 15–34.  . 2011. Congo Masquerade: The Political Culture of Aid Inefficiency and Reform Failure. London: Zed Books. Tull, D.M. 2010. ‘Troubled State-Building in the DR Congo: The Challenge from the Margins’, Journal of Modern African Studies 48(4): 643–661. Verhaghe, J. 2006. Notre beau métier: Ensuring the Quality of Primary School Teachers in DRC. (Unpublished report.) Washington, DC: World Bank. Vircoulon, T. 2005. ‘Ambiguïtés de l’intervention internationale en République démocratique du Congo’, Politique africaine 98: 79–95. Whitfield, L., and A. Fraser. 2009. ‘Introduction: Aid and Sovereignty’, in L. Whitfield (ed.), The Politics of Aid: African Strategies for Dealing with Donors. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 1–26. Willame, J.-C. 2002. L’Accord de Lusaka: Chronique d’une négociation internationale. Paris and Tervuren: L’Harmattan and Institut Africain-CEDAF.  . 2007. Les ‘Faiseurs de Paix’ au Congo. Gestion d’une crise internationale dans un État sous tutelle. Brussels: GRIP.

Chapter 3

High Officials’ Responsibility and State Accountability in the Age of Neoliberal Discharge Views from Mozambique Rozenn Nakanabo Diallo


alking in the streets of Maputo, the capital-city of Mozambique, or in secondary cities in the country, it is not rare to see signs with the following affirmation: ‘a Frelimo é que fez, a Frelimo é que faz’ – ‘It is Frelimo who made things happen, it is Frelimo who is presently making things happen’. Leading the country since Mozambique achieved independence in 1975, The Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) commonly makes use of this political slogan, attributing to itself the sole responsibility for all the tangible (and positive) evolutions that Mozambique has experienced over the past decades. This self-referentiality is more than just Frelimo’s: it is also the state’s, considering the confusion that exists between the party, Frelimo and the state apparatus. This political and discursive construction is also a symbolic one: since the struggle for liberation from Portuguese rule, Frelimo’s leadership has always considered, and presented, its responsibility as consisting in the modernisation of the Mozambican nation. It has indeed always been the aim of the Frelimo state to improve people’s lives, in the sense of getting them out of the ‘obscure’ time of both colonisation and tradition (Newitt 1995). This leitmotiv has scarcely changed since independence, and it may have become even stronger during the civil conflict period, in which Frelimo and The Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) were in opposition, from the end of the 1970s to 1992. The discourse of the Frelimo elite consisted of repeating that the party was fighting the

High Official’s Responsibility and State Accountability in Mozambique


‘bandits’, that is, the Renamo troops, who they considered to be opposing the only legitimate power that was in place (Cahen 2002). Today, as a result of the resurgence of the armed conflict between Frelimo and Renamo – especially between 2013 and 2016, on the eve of, and just after, the 2014 general elections (Guilengue 2016; MorierGenoud 2017) – Frelimo’s political discourse regarding its position as the only viable option for leading the country, has been challenged, both by the Renamo, but also by the Movimento Democratico de Moçambique (MDM), a recent and popular opposition party. However, Frelimo’s state leadership in policymaking and the party’s accountability are even more deeply challenged by the present context of neoliberal reforms and the aid regime. As elsewhere in Africa, the influence of international organisations and NGOs is often synonymous with policies conducted in a relatively autonomous way from the state apparatus. Mozambique has been a donor darling since the 1990s, and even though the current relationships between the state and its donors are quite tense because of the recent hidden debt scandal (Hanlon 2016), one might say that the Mozambican state governs with international actors. This is, for instance, the case in the conservation sector: national parks are managed within the frame of public–private partnerships, and special units, funded by donors, are created within central ministries to conduct specific policies. These transnational apparatuses impel reforms and conduct policies either at the top of the state, in the capital city, Maputo, or in the hinterland, within the frame of the daily management of protected areas. The international aid regime thus entails a situation where some of the senior public servants are actually paid by donors. This chapter intends to address the state’s responsibility in such a context, considering this from the high officials’ vantage point, in relation to the conservation sector. The latter are the body of the state, which they represent within the framework of state–society relationships, but also in the state’s interactions with its international donors. Specifically, the civil servants analysed in this chapter occupy high positions in the state apparatus: senior career officials from the first generation (formed at the end of the colonial era), contract workers who are employed for short-term missions from the second generation (formed in the years 1990–2000). All have in common the fact that they work officially for the state, while they are remunerated by international organizations. Based on an ethnographic survey carried out between 2009 and 2014, this chapter thus raises the question of the responsibility of these high-officials by focusing on their discourses and strategic positioning in order to analyse their condition of in-betweenness: half servants of the state, and half project managers of international organizations.


Rozenn Nakanabo Diallo

The trans-nationalization of public policies thus invites us to comprehend the responsibility of the state, in light of the very etymology of the term, the Latin word ‘respondere’, that is, ‘to vouch for, to answer to another for something’. Who do these senior officials work for when they formally operate within the state apparatus, but their salaries are paid for by international organizations? What are their discourses and their positioning in regard to what can be called their ‘grey’ status? These questions are all the more acute since Mozambique is a party-state whose post-independence discourse has been consistent in addressing the issue of the responsibility of the Frelimo Party (mostly composed of Southern urban elites, like the senior officials in this study), in the processes of the modernization and development of the nation in the post-colonial era. The centrality of donors, in terms of their funds and their agendas, echoes the dynamics of ‘discharge’ (Hibou 1999, adopting Weber’s approach), whereby intermediaries implement specific policies on behalf of the state. This is what Ferguson calls a ‘de facto government’ by NGOs, international organizations and private foundations since the late 1990s in Africa (Ferguson 2009). In other words, there are more and more transnational forms of government (Ferguson 2009: 168), because the key implementers of public policies are not the states themselves, but the transnational NGOs, international foundations and the transnational private sector. Ferguson points to a kind of decoupling between public policy and the nation-state – as if the latter was in no way accountable for such policies. On the contrary, the present case study of the Mozambican conservation sector shows that, if this dynamic of discharge certainly generates a process of trans-nationalization of public action – by which the key principles that guide the action of a part of the civil service, as well as the wages of many on its staff, have an exogenous origin – it also reveals the existence of regimes of responsibility that, paradoxically, reaffirm the central role of the recipient state. Despite its weak capacities, the party-state is indeed able to cultivate loyalties among its servants, who work through combining a strong commitment to the state, as well as to the implementation of the reforms that are designed and financed by the foreign aid agencies. This chapter thus invites us to consider how the aid system in Africa induces transformations of the regimes of responsibility, but not necessarily in the sense of an extroverted government of public policies. The affective or moral dimension of the civil servants’ attachment to the state (and possibly to the Party) is a variable that ensures the state’s centrality in the policymaking process, in which nationals (here, Mozambicans) are proud to work for their nation.

High Official’s Responsibility and State Accountability in Mozambique


Public Service in Post-independence Mozambique In colonial Africa, positions of responsibility were usually filled by settlers who were assisted by indigenous officials. Independence brought about the replacement of European civil servants, often through the nonconfrontational succession of the colonial administrative authority. As a result, the independent states have largely resumed the organizational methods that have been inherited from the colonial state (Darbon 2001). However, while independence was a real moment of social and political liberation for civil servants, especially with regard to the colonial administration (Bayart 2013), this ‘succession’ was carried out very quickly, particularly in cases where there was a precipitous departure of the Europeans, as in Mozambique. If the departure of the Portuguese was more or less continuous between the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, because of the rise of the disorders that were linked to the national liberation struggle that was led by the Frelimo, the departure became massive after independence in 1975 (Newitt 1995). Hence, there was a shortage of teachers to train the future administrative elite, but also a shortage of students, and this continued until the late 1990s. At the time, the Mozambican population’s illiteracy rate was between 90% and 97%. Frelimo therefore recruited anyone who had the minimum qualities required in order for the state administration to function, that is, a basic education (Sumich 2008), and directed the (rare) young Mozambican students to careers that they would often not have chosen independently, according to the necessities of the moment. The post-independence years were characterized by strong support from the Eastern Bloc, which manifested itself in the adoption of a Marxist– Leninist agenda, but also in intense university cooperation, something that can be observed in the educational itinerary of many senior officials. Created in 1960, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine remained open following independence. As in the colonial era, the veterinary services were responsible for wildlife, the management of national parks and the national and game reserves. These wildlife specialists were the spearheads of policies relating to nature, focusing particularly on the regulation of wildlife in relation to livestock herds, but also on the promotion of conservation areas, whose main attraction was precisely the wildlife. The teachers came from Cuba and Czechoslovakia, but also from the Netherlands. Since then, scholarships for PhDs in these partner countries have been developed, and the technical knowledge that emerged from this situation was based on extraversion. At the same time, however, Frelimo remained the only agent that was responsible for the selection and appointment of teachers. As noted by BI,1 veterinarian, and an assessor for the Minister


Rozenn Nakanabo Diallo

of Tourism on investment issues, ‘I am a son of the Frelimo era. Where do you think I hold “my mozambicanity”? Frelimo chose my education for me: we needed teachers. ... I could not decide on my itinerary, but I learned to love it, out of love for my country’.2 The post-independence years were marked by two related dynamics. The first concerned the importance and influence of international organizations at the top of the state, due to the lack of civil servants. For example, in the area of forest and wildlife management, the management functions were carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), expatriate staff until 1985, due to a lack of qualified Mozambican personnel. The second dynamic was a direct consequence of the aid system, which gradually established itself in Mozambique in the 1980s. As in Africa in general, being a civil servant had, until then, an enviable and sought-after status: wage policies were relatively generous (Raffinot and Roubaud 2001), and being a civil servant offered job security and social prestige (Anders 2007). Nevertheless, the first structural adjustments (1987 for Mozambique) became synonymous with hiring and wage freezes – and hence with a lower consideration for the status of the civil servant. The international financial institutions were pushing for ‘less state’ in favour of projects that were directly financed and implemented by international aid actors, thereby contributing to a decrease in the responsibility of the state. From the end of the 1990s, these principles were transformed into the concept of the ‘better state’, based on the neoliberal turn and New Public Management. In concrete terms, this new page in the design and structuring of the civil service was based on outsourcing and contracting, on the use of delegated management techniques, on the development of agencies and on the reorientation of activities towards customer service, profitability and economic efficiency (Darbon 2001) – all principles that were directly related to the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs). In other words, the responsibility of the state was again emphasized, but more in the sense of the state as a regulator than as an operator. The SAPs had consequences, in terms of the number of civil servants hired (about a third less on the continent, if compared to the pre-SAP period), and the nature of their functions. Indeed, according to Darbon (2001), from the early 1990s, a qualitative decline in public service can be noted, with the acceleration in the departure rate of the best-trained civil servants, generally towards the private sector. This decline is also illustrated by the absence of a ‘state nobility’, one that is supposed to embody the responsibility of the state in terms of the design and implementation of public policies. In fact, according to Darbon, in order to have a state nobility, there must be some form of professional inheritance, but also a value of honour linked

High Official’s Responsibility and State Accountability in Mozambique


to the exercise of a prestigious function, defined by symbolic marks of prestige. However, in post-SAPs Africa, the bureaucratic elite seems to take its prestige from the opportunities for material or symbolic recognition that are offered by internationalization. This generates a growing gap between senior civil servants and the social spaces they are called to manage. On the contrary, however, the analysis of the Mozambican case studies that I present below shows that the internationalization of careers (i.e. prestigious positions funded by international organizations), at the heart of the state apparatus, can also be the source of a reconnection between senior officials and the social spaces for which they are responsible – which re-actualizes the idea of the existence of a state nobility in Africa and the recognition of its responsibilities. In most African countries, reforms of the civil service that are associated with the aid regime seem to have generated organizational weakness, a lack of resources, high absenteeism, a generalized lack of motivation and personalized working relationships or clienteles – since the administrative sector is directly connected to the political one. However, if this is true for what can be defined as the ‘classic’ civil service – that is, one directly affected by these reforms and their consequences – the same is not necessarily true for those sectors of the administration which have directly benefited from donors’ support, and which have thus received additional resources. This is what Blundo (2011) calls a ‘two-tier administration’ (‘administration à deux vitesses’), in reference to the effects of the aid regime in Senegal and Niger on the Water and Forests’ sector since the 1970s. In these cases, some projects could afford, thanks to foreign resources, qualified and equipped staff, thus creating islands of efficiency, which became semi-autonomous normative and administrative spaces, partly disconnected from the traditional administration. As Bierschenck (2010) notes, this ‘project bureaucracy’ has much better working conditions and higher wages than the ‘classic’ administration. However, if we follow the distinction between management administration and mission administration that was proposed by Pisani (1956) in relation to 1950s France, these islands of excellence are also found within the state apparatus. In this case, the latter (mission administration) is an autonomous administrative body that is specialized in a specific mission, with its own budget, with an autonomous leader and with strong decision-making capacities. If the existence of a dual administrative network is in no way an unprecedented experience, what about cases where the mission administrations are organically associated with the state apparatus, while being financially and organizationally linked to international organisations? Since the 2000s, the World Bank has been promoting a process of ‘agencification’ (Young 2002), i.e. setting up specialized offices within


Rozenn Nakanabo Diallo

ministries to carry out specific policies. We might also mention public– private partnerships, where most of the expenses are borne by the ‘international partners’ of the state. It is in this context that the evolution of careers, but also the professional ethos of Mozambican senior officials, becomes interesting for the analysis of the transformation of regimes of responsibility in contemporary Africa. The history of Frelimo, and the context of the party-state, invites us to relativize the idea that there would be no (or no more) state nobility in Mozambique, or that the reforms of the state that are connected to the transformations in the aid regime would have destroyed the very idea of public service that is associated with direct state responsibility in preparing and implementing public policies. It is also a case study that gives some answers to the enigma posed by Raffinot and Roubaud (2001): why does the desire to access the public service remain so strong, even as the purchasing power of this category of workers has decreased so much that public servants refer to themselves as the ‘new poor’? This invites us to acknowledge the persistence of the attachment and loyalty to the state (and the party) of senior officials, and allows us to argue that we can still find state responsibility in public action that is financed by international aid: despite the fact that it is being financed by foreign donors, civil servants remain at the heart of the state apparatus, and this in-between position gives them a particular agency.

Two Generations of High Officials, One Common Feature: The Contractualization of the Senior Civil Service The Mozambican senior officials in the conservation sector who hold leadership positions both in the central ministries in Maputo and the administration of conservation areas, form a small group, which I estimate to be about twenty people. The group consists of people from different generations: some were educated in the 1970s and 1980s, others in the 1990s and 2000s. The first generation is mostly composed of veterinarians, and the second is specialized in social sciences (the anthropology of development), or in the hard sciences (biology). In any case, they are development professionals: interactions with representatives of international organizations are a real routine, they are part of their job – their functions can only be read in terms of their relationships – and positions – that are between the world of the state and the world of aid. Hence, we find responsibility regimes that are based on local knowledge and practices (often ones inherited from the colonial period and relayed from generation to generation of civil servants),3 and these

High Official’s Responsibility and State Accountability in Mozambique


are hybridized with the transfer of narratives coming from the world of aid (such as sustainable development). First-generation veterinarians began their experience in the world of international aid in the late 1980s. Back then, most were attached to the Ministry of Agriculture. In addition to the numerous seminars and national meetings on the regulation and protection of wildlife in this period, two major post-conflict laws were designed with the active involvement of several international donors (e.g. the FAO): the 1997 Land Act and the 1999 Forest Act. The connection with the world of international aid was confirmed after 2001, thanks to the creation of the Ministry of Tourism, which allows a greater visibility for nature policies, and for the wildlife veterinary specialists, who where transferred to this new Ministry. The early 2000s are indeed the time of the rise of the World Bank project for the Trans-frontier Conservation Areas (TFCA) – which is part of the transfer of competencies between the two ministries (in the form of a department called the TFCA unit). From a more general point of view, the creation of the Ministry of Tourism was a response to the recovery of the tourism sector in the late 1990s, which, in Mozambique, focuses on beaches and protected areas. Veterinarians accepted the opportunity to play the game of the transition from agriculture to tourism: they ended up being the translators of the evolution of governmental priorities (themselves underpinned by the impetus of the World Bank TFCA project, which endorses an association between ecological conservatism and the commercialization of nature). Their professional careers made them specialists in biodiversity conservation issues, with specific experience in wildlife protection issues. The change of focus in government policy therefore only partly responded to their professional ethos – the attachment to a certain conception of nature, composed of wildlife that must be protected, particularly from intrusions and diseases that are caused by the proximity of livestock farms, hardly corresponds to a vision of nature that is centred around the imperative of profitability: National parks mean places for the protection of biodiversity, for the management of the environment. However, the Minister (of Tourism) obliges us to consider the park as a business centre. Now it is a matter of knowing where trade begins, and where conservation begins.4

This is where the responsibility of this first generation for the environment, which is directly linked to their veterinary training, is played out. However, if they express reluctance in regard to the pronounced emphasis on the commodification of nature, this does not limit their


Rozenn Nakanabo Diallo

professional practice, which has been marked by this type of narrative for years, especially because of their interactions with aid actors. This first generation is composed of career civil servants, whose trajectories are intimately connected to the state, but in ways that are different from case to case: some have always remained in the state apparatus, whilst others have taken extended leave in order to go to work in the private sector or for international organizations.5 This administrative elite is multiform: the links with the state are more or less distended, but never completely broken. Aid agencies recruit these conservation/ development professionals because they have the appropriate skills in the field of conservation, but also because they intimately know the machinery of the state, with which aid agencies need to collaborate daily while manufacturing public policies. These actors are indeed regularly recruited by aid agencies to work specifically for the state – and even at the heart of the state.6 This was, for instance, the case of M., who was hired by the the Fondation Internationale pour la Gestion de la Faune (IGF), in order to work within the National Directorate for Conservation Areas, within the Ministry of Tourism (DNAC). Today, the five veterinarians of this first generation whom I met during my research all occupy key posts at the top of the state and/or are in positions of daily interaction with the state and with the international agencies for conservation/development. While E. and L. remained in management positions in the central ministries, BI. is a professor at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and is also a special advisor to the Minister of Tourism since 2008. M. left the public service in 2004, just like H. in 2000, to become a consultant (his firm regularly wins contracts from different ministries). Some of these professionals are thus present in projects that are financed by donors at the Ministry of Tourism, or they occupy positions as experts in consulting firms that specialize in conservation issues.7 They are marked by their inherited beliefs, by the practices of the social body to which they used to belong, that is, the restricted group of civil servants that is specialized in nature policies, and, more particularly, in the protection of wildlife. They are part of the elite of the administration, and they share – like most of the public executives and bureaucrats of this generation – a socialist political socialization that makes them proud to be at the service of the nation (following the modernizing logic that has been emphasized by Frelimo since independence) and of being able to work effectively. However, this is possible only because of the contractualization of the high administration via international funds: When I started, there were not many options: the economy was centralized. So, the state was everything. And in my field there is no private sector, even

High Official’s Responsibility and State Accountability in Mozambique


if, well, it’s beginning to come. So there was not much interest in it. Then when I went to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), I thought I had to go back to the state. I knew I wanted to go back, even though I did not know which position I might target. ... I think I was lucky to work for a project financed by the World Bank. The working posture is different: the World Bank is very competitive. We learn to be more efficient. There are evaluation systems and so on. ... I confess that I would have great difficulty working for the state today, working in conditions that are very different from those I know: evaluation, information…8

This interview excerpt illustrates both the emotional and the pragmatic dimensions of these actors’ positioning process: L. is a veterinarian in his fifties, who made his whole career at top positions in the Minister of Agriculture and then in the Minister of Tourism, where he became head of the TFCA unit and then of the new National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC). He wants ‘to return to the state’ but is also aware that it would be difficult for him ‘to work for the state today’. Although internationally recognized as a conservation expert, he aims to renew his commitment to the state – but he wants to do so while avoiding working for a classic administration, where working conditions are neither materially nor economically satisfactory. A position within the state is interesting only from the point of view of the effectiveness of the action taken. The TFCA unit, a mission administration that recruits senior officials on fixed contracts, corresponds to the concretization of these discourses, which combine both proximity to, and distance from, the state. ‘Loyalty’ to the state can thus be understood in connection with the originality and ambiguity of the career of these actors: all of them revolve around the state, and generally work officially at its service – but all are paid by international funds. The second generation also multiplies the contracts – but without being career officials. For example, C. and AO. have in common the fact that they both worked for the state, but on short-term projects, depending on opportunities, and that they are systematically remunerated by international organizations – the World Bank for C. and the Carr Foundation for AO. These two actors are central to the management of public policies that relate to nature. C. is in his thirties, he has been a technical advisor at the TFCA unit, then Director of Programmes at the management company of the Niassa National Reserve, and is today an independent consultant. He explains his trajectory: Today I am a consultant, but I do not want to do it for too long. I already have experience in the private sector, at the state level, and in a public–private partnership. So I think it would be nice to do something else. Doing these


Rozenn Nakanabo Diallo

consultancies is already going in this direction. I would like to do something on my own. I was invited to join some NGOs, especially WWF, and to consult for firms specializing in the environmental sector. However, none of these proposals gives me a ‘click’, you know, an offer that interests you, but that scares you at the same time. I could go back to the state, if I had this ‘click’.9

AO., in his forties, occupied senior managerial positions at Gorongosa National Park between 2008 and 2018, has also held multiple contracts with NGOs and international organizations, before working for the Carr Foundation in Gorongosa, as a representative of the state, as part of the public–private partnership adopted to manage the national park. He became in 2019 head of the ANAC. His training (anthropology of development), like that of C. (biology), shows that the professional profile of the second generation is no longer linked to the world of veterinarians. The link with the conservation of nature now passes through other specializations. This generation is able to promote its internationalized knowledge (thanks to studies in South Africa and Australia) within a state machine whose work it knows intimately, thanks, in particular, to family stories that are often closely related to Frelimo – which does not necessarily imply an explicitly displayed partisan affiliation. C. is a white Mozambican whose family chose to remain in the country after independence, but who is not a card-carrying member of the Frelimo party – contrary to AO., who puts forward his family legacy: grandson of a national liberation hero, his wife is the daughter of a brother of Chissano, the former President of Mozambique. Working for the state in the context of specific projects is thus experienced as a professional opportunity: The coordinator of TFCA Limpopo ... told me he wanted me to come and work with them. He told me, ‘we have an interesting project with the World Bank, it pays well’. I thought he was joking, but he really insisted, and, finally, I sent my résumé. I did not believe in it too much, I had heard that, at the World Bank, all the people who were hired were selected in advance. And I was not very motivated to work for the state. My friends told me it would be crazy to work for the state. ... But then, yes, I joined the state apparatus, but I did it only because it was a World Bank project. So, there were ways to do things. And then there was a team that wanted to do things. ... Actually, I really liked it. I understood what it was to work for the state, I understood how it works. I was given a lot of independence in the ministry.10

As these examples show, the neoliberal turn and the increase in the importance of international aid throughout the 1990s imply a change in the configuration of elite networks (whichever of the two generations is considered): the world of the high administration mixes with that of Frelimo, but also with the private sector and the world of aid: elite

High Official’s Responsibility and State Accountability in Mozambique


members can rely on a broad network of friends and family who have, or have had, senior positions in aid, private companies, or the government (Sumich 2008). This interpenetration among administration, politics and the private sector is what characterizes the elite of the administration today – as shown also by contemporary case studies in France, for example (Bongrand 2012, Gervais 2012). The blurring of the boundaries between these three worlds is explained by the hybrid institutional capital of the elites studied, and, at the same time, this capital is the result of the porous borders that exist between these different spheres. In other words, it is because these actors have resources that are valuable in each of these worlds that they are able to come and go between them, according to temporary contracts and lay-offs. It is because the labour market is structured in this way that these actors gradually acquire a hybrid institutional capital. The hybridization of careers, however, also positions these actors in complex and movable regimes of responsibility. This is shown by their speeches, which may appear contradictory at first glance, since they associate their pride in serving the state with the acknowledgement of the fact that they do not strictly belong to its apparatus. In this respect, there are important similarities between the first and second generations, and both fall into a grey area, midway between the world of the state and the world of aid. They are at the interface or, better, they are the interface. This interface has a triple dimension. Firstly, cognitive: the practices of these actors are based on unequal and variable adjustments over time between the different perceptions and procedures of the groups of actors and organizations with which they are in relation. Secondly, relational: they play in both directions – in the case of the TFCA unit, for example, they represent the administration before the World Bank, and the World Bank before the administration. Finally, sociological: they are characterized by their active multi-positionality at the interface of different social universes. It is always a matter of reconciling international agendas with the interests of the state: in this sense, they are standard setters, that is, they calibrate the local political debates according to the guidelines of the international development/conservation agencies, while also respecting national priorities and conceptions. Interestingly, however, while most of these officials are at the service of the state, in their self-presentation, their relationship to Frelimo is discussed differently case by case and particularly according to their different generations. It is particularly in this respect that the regimes of responsibility to which they refer can be distinguished: to serve the state in the name of an old attachment and of a specific socialist political socialization, or even of a moral duty, for the first generation; to be at its service on the basis of occasional contracts, for the second generation.

Rozenn Nakanabo Diallo


The Attachment to the State(-party) These senior officials negotiate at the margins; they are both intermediaries and negotiators who take charge and try to reconcile the interests of the two parties that they unite. In short, they do some ‘straddling’; their skills are recognized by the world of international aid, but also by the Mozambican state, and this allows them to play a role, adopting the guidelines that come from the international actors, but making them acceptable at the national level – and vice versa, so as to allow the state to have a form of representation in the world of international aid. Ultimately, the dual allegiance of these high officials is almost mechanical: if their representation of the world and their primary, professional and moral attachments are connected to their first profession,11 and therefore to the state (as far as the first generation is concerned), they work according to the procedures and agendas of their employer (the international donor who is paying their salary) in order to maintain their status as influential civil servants with access to the financial means that are needed in order to have an impact. This is what M. points at, when he draws the diagram, shown below, in my notebook: I’m in between (in the grey area on the diagram). I am considered here as a part of the MITUR (Ministry of Tourism), not as a part of IGF. My contract with IGF, financed by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), is to support MITUR. Being based here, working on conservation for a long time, being Mozambican... it’s a mixture of coincidences, of a number of aspects. And things mix positively. Sometimes I have trouble presenting myself as IGF. So, I introduce myself rather as DNAC/IGF. So in the end, yes, both are my bosses.12

To have two bosses is also, in a way, a position of power, which allows these high officials to play on their double expertise and their dual Table 3.1. M’s diagram.





High Official’s Responsibility and State Accountability in Mozambique


membership, in terms of prestige, skills and income – in this sense, their responsibility (in the sense of responding to the state or to the donor), can be considered flexible, and even opportunistic. As Stone points out, by calling these types of actors ‘internationalised public sector officials’ (Stone 2008: 30), ‘they hold power as a result of their (semi)official position; their control of information, and other organizational resources; their technical expertise or epistemic authority’ (Stone 2008: 31). This status has many advantages: high incomes and real material means to achieve results, as opposed to the traditional administration, which has lower pay, less competence and less equipment (computers, broadband internet connection, vehicles, assistants). However, having two bosses is also a way of being sure of keeping a position in the state administration – which proves to be a real motivation for some, because of the job security and retirement guarantees that come with such positions. This interview excerpt with BI. demonstrates this point well: The big dilemma for countries like Mozambique, which do not have a wellorganized system of social security and pensions, is that people do not like to leave the state. So people look for alternatives in order to get some financial satisfaction. But they always come back to the state, because it is the only employer to offer a pension scheme, even if it is small. The National Institute of Social Security (INSS) is not even twenty years old. It allows people in the private sector to pay a tax to contribute. So things are changing …13

Attachment to the state is thus also a question of job security, but not only this, as many interviews conducted mainly with members of the first generation of senior officials show loyalty to the party-state, that is to say, to Frelimo. This primordial attachment is firstly expressed in the way people introduce themselves. These actors often present themselves as civil servants, above all else. This is the case with BI.: In the first place, I am a civil servant of the state. ... I have a triple subordination: as an official of the state, I give my courses and I am evaluated for this work; as a leader in the ministry, I’m evaluated too, by Chief Sumbana (the Minister of Tourism); at the end of the day, as I have to respect also the donor’s terms of engagement, I have to report to them too. ... The donor has a programme with the MITUR. Instead of taking years to implant the programme, they put me in the middle, so that I can solicit the minister to speed things up. I am like a USAID policeman.14

At the end of the same interview, he added: ‘I remained a communist, I’m loyal to the state. From this point of view, I’m monogamous!’.15 In a context in which, for senior officials, membership to the state and the party is an element of continuity between the ‘Marxist–Leninist’


Rozenn Nakanabo Diallo

period and the current neoliberal period, the de facto dual allegiance of these in-between actors at times fades behind the display of their primordial loyalty to the state(-party). This loyalty is, above all, a defining aspect of the first generation of the high officials who are analysed here, the ones that had access to higher education thanks to the support of Frelimo after independence. This generation has spent its entire career at the highest levels of the state administration: I met M. and L. in high school. And M. well before L. We are fifty years old now. We met each other when we were nineteen/twenty years old. ... I have always worked for the state – district, province and at the national level. M. left the state at one point: he was at FAO for a year. L. left the state too, for a year. But I never did it. I don’t know why. ... I have a real passion for serving. ... We belong to a generation that has been raised with a spirit of service. It’s different in the younger generations. There has been a change because of the weight of the market, they want good wages. They are here to serve themselves, not to serve the nation. I understand them, I do not criticize them. I never worried about salary, about well-being. ..., I want to be able to look back and tell myself that I did this and that, and I served my country. So I always had a link with the state.16

This conception of responsibility in terms of ‘service’ is a characteristic of the discourses of the first-generation officials. However, being at the service of the state, while still making a good living thanks to the remuneration of international organizations, is seen as a win-win situation: In a centralized economy, being a state employee is one of the best deals. With the switch to the market economy this generation of officials had a competitive advantage. You know what it is? Experience? Yes, it’s the experience. There has been a big brain drain from the state to private companies. But some do not like uncertainty, so they have remained in the state. However, they have adopted ‘coping strategies’: they have remained in the state, with the support of small projects. So we are government officials and, at the same time, we manage a project. This avoids the ‘brain drain’ and keeps projects within the sphere of state control – and it also increases our wages. That’s why you have situations like those of L. and E. That’s how the state has managed to keep its executives in key positions. And, yes, there is the question of patriotism. However, if I compare my generation with that of E. and L. in terms of ambition, they are much more aggressive. I just had a house, and took care of things for my family, but the new generation wants more. Mentalities change with development.17

Patriotism is directly connected to the question of links with the partystate: for whom do these officials work? Those of the first generation have close ties with Frelimo. In the interviews, an explicit acknowledgment of

High Official’s Responsibility and State Accountability in Mozambique


these partisan links has been difficult to obtain: the relationship with the ruling power is a sensitive, taboo issue. It can be said that, at this level of public administration, membership of the party is self-evident, the party card has long been a sine qua non for accessing any position of leadership. As the history of Frelimo is intimately linked to the southern part of the country and its urban population, which is a breeding ground for its supporters, but also for political and bureaucratic personnel (Sumich 2008), it may be observed that the first-generation veterinarians are more often of urban origin and they maintain privileged relations with Frelimo. BI. and E. are the two actors whose links with Frelimo are the clearest. BI. is a close friend of the Minister of Tourism, who is himself closely connected to the Head of state. E. has logistical duties at large Frelimo rallies, and he participates in many partisan meetings, especially during the election periods. However, nuances can be observed: working for Frelimo, certainly, but as long as it ensures a satisfactory lifestyle. Some of the first-generation officials thus made the choice to leave public service, momentarily for M., and definitively for H. In their cases, the question of material comfort was decisive, as M. confirms: ‘We are looking to make money. And then there is the question of personal achievement. Even if, yes, there is the feeling of doing something for the country’.18 This fluid connection is explicitly discussed by M.: I think the question of patriotism concerns a very small group. Today, it is mainly the market economy: I receive more according to my skills. I feel that we have lost the sense of patriotism. At the time of Machel19 there was that. He had a vision, right or wrong, of what he wanted Mozambique to be. Today, we are in a much more materialistic period.20

The relationship with patriotism – and with the party – fades for the second generation: the contractualization of the relationship to the state is undoubtedly one of the causes of this attitude for many. Since this elite works for the state, but on a temporary contract, its partisan relationship is necessarily looser – or at least less systematic. The difference between the positions of C. and AO. on this issue is remarkable: C. has always refused to respond to invitations to participate in meetings of the Frelimo cell within the Ministry of Tourism, even though many of his colleagues were involved. For him, the weight of the party in his professional life in the central ministry has been relatively marginal. On the other side of the spectrum, AO. confesses to having a party card, and willingly presents himself – but in informal interviews only – as a patriot. If their relationship to the party is more or less loose, C. and


Rozenn Nakanabo Diallo

AO. have in common that they are more distant from Frelimo in terms of their career paths. When compared to the first generation, they do not owe their academic success or their professional promotions directly to the party. In all cases, whether they are specifically committed to serving the party-state or not, all are positioned as servants of the state, even if their remuneration comes from an international organization. It is as if the influence of the ‘inside’ (the state) was always claimed against that of the ‘outside’ (the international donors).

Conclusion: Neoliberal Discharge and Weak State Responsibility The professional trajectories of conservation specialists in Mozambique are marked by increasing mobility. For some, the status of senior civil servants is increasingly marked by contractualization. Working at the top of the state administration happens only within the framework of well-equipped (in terms of financial and material means) administrative units. These units function only because of the international aid regime, which cultivates such bureaucratic enclaves within the state. The process of creating highly specialized and efficient administrative units, as well as the use of expert panels to develop departmental strategies or to design public policies, directly echoes the neoliberal discharge. The case study presented in this chapter, focusing on high officials who are positioned halfway between the world of the state and the world of international aid agencies, makes it possible to argue that the responsibility of the state lies in its regulatory capacities. Indeed, the state ultimately owns the ‘commodity of sovereignty’ (Igoe and Brockington 2007), which the donors do not have, as they possess only a limited capacity to penetrate the bureaucratic machine of the state (Bellina et. al 2010). Even more than that, the responsibility of the state is constantly being reformulated through these high officials’ attachment to the nation. The affective, and even the moral, dimension of these actors’ commitment is based on a particular relationship with the state – a relationship that is not systematically partisan, but which relates more to the ethos of senior civil servants in a general way. As Bierschenk underlines, in relation to West Africa: ‘it emerged very clearly from our interviews that African officials see themselves as having a moral contractual relationship with the state. More senior officials describe this moral relationship as largely intact: we work for the nation, they say’ (Bierschenk 2010: 14). This pride in being at the service of the state could thus be a common characteristic

High Official’s Responsibility and State Accountability in Mozambique


of the administrative elites working in the framework of projects that are financed by external aid but fall within the state apparatus. This case study stresses, however, that the primordial difference between the two generations relates to the conception of their daily work: for the first generation, serving the state is done in the sense of perpetuating the modernizing ambition of Frelimo since independence. For the second generation, to serve the state has the sense of doing their job well. Designing one’s profession as ‘being at the service of the state’ also derives from the job descriptions of civil servants: their remuneration from donors is combined with the formal status that makes them part of the state apparatus. At the TFCA unit, the Minister of Tourism is the direct supervisor; at the Gorongosa National Park, the two Mozambican directors formally represent the Mozambican state under a public–private partnership. The words of AQ., senior staff at Gorongosa National Park, whose job is funded by the Carr Foundation, illustrated this, when he exclaimed: ‘Sovereignty cannot be negotiated!’21 A white Mozambican, who remained in Mozambique while his entire family made the choice to return to Portugal at independence, AQ. presents himself as a servant of the state. He underlines that he has to negotiate daily his double allegiance to the Foundation that pays him, and to the state that he represents. There is, in fact, a real concern for the representation of the state, and for a state that ‘sets the road,’ vis-à-vis the donors, and which, in a way, ‘holds to its rank’: Foreign directors have much better material conditions, including larger and better equipped houses. ... However, this has repercussions: one of our workers, when he sees the Mozambican directors living in these conditions, he will compare them with the foreign directors who live in houses twice as large, and will draw his conclusions. And this diminishes the respect for us, because we ultimately represent the state. So, they will say to themselves: but what kind of state is this?22

The attachment to the state is thus directly reflected in his self-presentation, which consists here in a discourse underlining the clear difference between the state and the donors, in a dialectic of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’. This point comes out clearly in these excerpts from my field notes: AQ.: The Minister of Tourism, our Minister, told us: you must domesticate the Americans, there is no other choice (vocês têm que domesticar os Americanos, não há outra hipótese).23 AO.: The Minister told us: you (the Mozambican directors) must be strong and hold your positions in this project.24


Rozenn Nakanabo Diallo

This attachment to public service is illustrated in a similar way when most members of the TFCA Unit position themselves as ‘servants of the state’. They represent the ‘Government of Mozambique’ at meetings with donors. Moreover, loyalty to the state is also a condition for having access to these very ‘juicy’ positions, in the short term, and these are positions that are very interesting in the long run – indeed, working in these hybrid positions can later give access to the highest positions. This is, for example, true in the case of L., who after many years in the management staff of the TFCA unit was appointed in the senior staff of the new administration in charge of the management of conservation areas (ANAC), which is also financed by funds from the World Bank. Hence, the attitude of these high officials could be summarized as being twofold: the donors (and the fact of working for them) are seen as a way to gain experience and resources, to advance in a political or administrative career; while the state remains the ultimate goal – a political project, and a social objective. The emergence of the contractualization of public service creates the possibility for the re-actualization of the state’s accountability (no matter how weak) – and gives Frelimo the opportunity to perpetuate its political legacy, which emphasizes the responsibility of the state to promote the development of the country. Rozenn Nakanabo Diallo is Lecturer in Political Science at Sciences Po Bordeaux. She works on policymaking in the context of international aid regime in Mozambique, focusing on the biodiversity conservation sector. More specifically, her research relates to a sociology of state formation in Africa and of high civil servants’ professional careers.

Notes  1. All the people interviewed quoted in this chapter have been anonymized.  2. Personal communication, 29 August 2014, Café Sabores, Maputo (Mozambique).  3. For example, in 1972, the Veterinary Services of the Province of Mozambique published a 300-page document compiling conservation legislation, commonly known as the Livro Azul (Blue Book). This document has marked the minds and practices of many Mozambican officials (from all generations) who still refer to it, even if new regulations (often contradicting those included in the Livro) have been adopted.  4. Personal communication with E., 19 May 2009, Ministry of Tourism, Maputo (Mozambique). In his fifties, veterinarian, he held high positions at the Department of Wildlife at the Ministry of Agriculture, at the National Directorate for Conservation

High Official’s Responsibility and State Accountability in Mozambique


Areas at the Ministry of Tourism, and at the TFCA Unit at the Ministry of Tourism. He has his Frelimo party card.  5. Others have left, for example, to create a consulting firm. Their profile is similar to that of the second generation, which is composed of contractors, rather than of career officials.  6. In the case of the first generation, it is either people who are on extended leave, or people who hold positions within ministries, who then join a particular ministerial unit, directly linked to international funds.  7. These are not dynamics specific to Mozambique. For example, when referring to Niger and Senegal in the 1980s, Blundo describes how projects funded by international institutions, such as the World Bank, or by bilateral cooperation agencies and national and international NGOs, started recruiting senior civil servants or technical staff from the national forestry administration. These people ‘leave [the administration] through temporary leaves or secondments. Some will never return to their original administrative position’ (Blundo, 2011: 432).  8. Personal communication with L., 5 September 2016, Ministry of Tourism, Maputo (Mozambique).  9. Personal communication with C., 3 September 2014, Café Dowe, Maputo (Mozambique). 10. Personal communication with C., 3 September 2014, Café Dowe, Maputo (Mozambique). 11. Hence, a propensity, especially for veterinarians, to think of conservation as being above all at the service of wildlife protection – which allows them, moreover, to adapt easily enough to the agenda of the World Bank, which focuses on the preservation of wildlife within conservation areas. 12. Personal communication with M. (IGF technical attaché), 21 March 2011, Ministry of Tourism, Maputo (Mozambique). 13. Personal communication with BI (technical advisor to the Minister of Tourism), 26 August 2010, Ministry of Tourism, Maputo (Mozambique). 14. Ibid. 15. Ibid. 16. Personal communication with E., 4 September 2014, Café Perula, Maputo (Mozambique). 17. Personal communication with BI., 29 August 2014, Café Sabores, Maputo (Mozambique). 18. Personal communication with M. (technical advisor to ANAC), 1 September 2014, Café Casa Velha, Maputo (Mozambique). 19. Samora Machel, first president of independent Mozambique. 20. Personal communication with M. (technical advisor to the ANAC), 1 September 2014, Café Casa Velha, Maputo (Mozambique). 21. Personal communication with AQ. (Director of Conservation, GRP), 30 July 2010, Chitengo (Mozambique). 22. Personal communication with AQ. (Director of Conservation, GRP), 26 March 2010, Chitengo (Mozambique). 23. Informal communication with AQ. (Director of Conservation, GRP), 26 March 2010, Chitengo (Mozambique). 24. Informal communication with AO. (Director of Community relations, GRP), 30 March 2010, Chitengo (Mozambique).


Rozenn Nakanabo Diallo

References Anders, G. 2007. ‘Redimensionner la fonction publique au Malawi: préceptes des organisations internationales et réalités administratives’. Critique internationale 35(2): 85–99. Bayart, J.-F. 2013. ‘La cité bureaucratique en Afrique subsaharienne’, in B. Hibou (ed.), La bureaucratisation néolibérale. Paris: La Découverte, pp. 291–313. Bellina, S., D. Darbon, S.S. Eriksen and O.-J. Sending. 2010. L’Etat en quête de légitimité: Sortir collectivement des situations de fragilité. Paris: Charles Leopold Mayer. Bierschenk, T. 2010. States at Work in West Africa: Sedimentation, Fragmentation and Normative Double-Binds. Working Paper n° 113, Mainz, Department of Anthropology and African Studies, University of Mainz. Blundo, G. 2011. ‘Une administration à deux vitesses: Projets de développement et construction de l’Etat au Sahel’. Cahiers d’études africaines 202–203: 427–452. Bongrand, P., J. Gervais and R. Payre. 2012. ‘Introduction: Les savoirs de gouvernement à la frontière entre “administration” et “politique”’. Gouvernement et action publique 4(4): 7–20. Cahen, M. 2002. Les bandits: Un historien au Mozambique, 1994. Paris: Centre Culturel Calouste-Gulbenkian. Darbon, D. 2001. ‘De l’introuvable à l’innommable: fonctionnaires et professionnels de l’action publique dans les Afriques’. Autrepart 4(20): 27–42. Ferguson, J. 2009. ‘The Uses of Neoliberalism’. Antipode 41(1): 166–184. Gervais, J. 2012. ‘Les sommets très privés de l’Etat: Le “Club des acteurs de la modernisation” et l’hybridation des élites’. Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales 194(4): 4–21. Guilengue, F. 2016. ‘Mozambique Is Suffering a Military Expression of a Political Problem [interview with Michel Cahen]’. Pambazuka News, 2 June 2016. Retrieved on 15 March 2018 from mozambique-suffering-military-expression-political-problem. Hanlon, J. 2016. ‘Debt crisis’. Mozambique News Report & Clippings 318: 1–5. Hibou, B. 1999. ‘La “décharge”, nouvel interventionnisme’. Politique Africaine 73: 6–15. Igoe, J., and D. Brockington. 2007.‘Neoliberal Conservation: A Brief Introduction’. Conservation and Society 5(4): 432–449. Morier-Genoud, E. 2017. ‘Proto-guerre et négociations: Le Mozambique en crise, 2013-2016’. Politique Africaine 145: 143–175. Newitt, M. 1995. A History of Mozambique. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Pisani, E. 1956. ‘Administration de gestion, administration de mission’. Revue française de science politique 6(2): 315–330. Raffinot, M., and F. Roubaud. 2001. ‘Recherche fonctionnaires désespérément!’ Autrepart 4(20): 5–10. Stone, D. 2008. ‘Global Public Policy, Transnational Policy, Communities and Their Networks’. The Policy Studies Journal 36(1): 19–38.

High Official’s Responsibility and State Accountability in Mozambique


Sumich, J. 2008. ‘Politics after the Time of Hunger in Mozambique: A Critique of Neo-Patrimonial Interpretation of African Elites’. Journal of Southern African Studies 34(1): 111–125. Young, Z. 2002. A New Green Order? The World Bank and the Politics of the Global Environment Facility. London: Pluto Press.

Chapter 4

Reproduction, Responsibility and Citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire Giulia Almagioni and Armando Cutolo



hile carrying out field-research in Côte d’Ivoire in the Autumn of 1999, we collected a small archive of posters and images that were used in the ‘education and communication’ campaigns of the Association Ivoirenne pour le Bien-Être Familial (AIBEF), the most important Ivorian organization for family planning. AIBEF worked within a governmental frame but was funded within the network of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and its communication activity was supervised by Johns Hopkins University. Among the many images we examined, two immediately caught our attention. They were complementary, used by agents to start collective discussions of procreation and sexuality in the underclass neighbourhoods of Abidjan. They eloquently represented some of the crucial elements of the new ‘reproductive health’ discourse that had emerged a few years before at the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development in 1994, and that had rapidly become hegemonic in the international network of humanitarian organizations. In the first image (see figure 4.1), a causal relation between poverty and a high number of children is explicitly represented. A miserable and desperate life is pictured: two parents stare at their family with a helpless and stupefied expression. It looks like they are asking themselves where all those crying, imploring babies and children came from. They are clearly lacking food, garments, shoes, cures; the menacing, inescapably increasing number of the offspring is illustrated by the double burden carried by the mother: she has a baby on her back, while another is

Reproduction, Responsibility and Citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire


already in her womb. The father looks humble and confused, standing as an exemplary confutation that numerous offspring makes the honour and the pride of a man. The caption underneath reads (in French): ‘how to avoid this misery? A solution: plan your family for the health of mother and child’. This picture was generally proposed by AIBEF agents at the beginning of the public ‘causeries’ (conversations) they organized in both neighbourhoods and a sanitary centre where they presented to potential contraception users. It was followed by another image (see figure 4.2) where a ‘happy family’ was represented. Every detail of this image expresses a condition of success, satisfaction, dignity and domestic comfort. The family is portrayed in a rural scene, where the couple has only two children, a boy and a girl, with an imagined age difference of about three years – the ideal spacing of births in reproductive health discourse. The house is well built, with shutters and a roof of corrugated steel (a sign of relative ease, whereas other houses in the picture have only thatched roofs); a bicycle can be seen in the courtyard. Everyone is well dressed, mixing European and African garments: the mother wears an African dress with headgear. The picture wants to communicate a sense harmony and well-being; the caption underneath this picture reads: ‘how to get this joy of living? One solution: plan your family’. The relations connecting these two images should not be reduced to a well-known Malthusian scheme which is, nonetheless, pertinent in their figurative language. In fact, they implicitly convey the important transformation in the global discourse on reproduction that emerged at the 1994 Cairo conference referenced above. As the following chapter explains, this conference marked a turning point in global population policies. It relaunched the global population issue in the international institutional space, configuring it in a new form that converged with the neoliberal turn in governmentality taking place in the same years. With both images, the captions refer to the family’s wellbeing as the main rationale for family planning. A set of personal responsibilities is implicitly represented and, as we could observe during our fieldwork, this was to be explicitly discussed by AIBEF agents during the ‘causeries’ in Abidjan’s communities. Fathers should care for their wives and children, protecting them from poverty and disease through responsible reproductive (and sexual) behaviour; the same can be said about mothers, who should become agents of their own sexual lives and reproductive careers, and thereby be held responsible for their own health and wellbeing. Indeed, the message conveyed by the two pictures not only concerns birth control, but also moral subjectivation. The responsibility of the individuals towards the family is at stake. Planning a rational, sustainable


Giulia Almagioni and Armando Cutolo

number of children to bear means being able to govern one’s own reproductive conduct and, hence, to contribute to the good governance of one’s own community. Activating processes of moral subjectivation of the individual was, as we are going to see, at the core of the ‘reproductive health’ discourse emerging at the Cairo conference – of which childcare and the women’s empowerment were fundamental constituents. In Côte d’Ivoire, however, the discourse around reproductive health was given a distinctive flavour, as it grafted itself onto the specific national

Figure 4.1. ‘How to avoid this misery? A solution: plan your family for the health of mother and child’. Photograph of the poster by the authors.

Reproduction, Responsibility and Citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire


issue addressing the relation between citizenship and the resident population. The second half of the 1990s was a critical moment, marked by the rise of social tensions that were reformulated and oriented by a part of the political elites towards the idea of a ‘population problem’, and the urge to redefine the Ivorian national body (Losch 2000; Dozon 2000). As a matter of fact, it was between 1997 and 1998, when the ethno-nationalist ideology of ivoirité was being shaped by academics and intellectuals close to the president Henri Konan Bédié (Cutolo 2010), that the latter’s government started to accept the idea of implementing a population policy as international institutions and donors had been demanding for some time. Those were the years immediately preceding the first coup d’état of Côte d’Ivoire’s history (23–24 December 1999), when the economic and social crisis the country underwent obliged the Ivorian government not only to

Figure 4.2. ‘How to get this joy of living? One solution: plan your family’. Photograph of the poster by the authors.


Giulia Almagioni and Armando Cutolo

accept the structural adjustment plans proposed by transnational financial institutions, but also to endorse forms of governmentality hitherto unknown or left to NGOs. Among those was a campaign for reproductive health and family planning that would have been difficult to endorse at the time of the President Felix Houphouët-Boigny, who had always overtly maintained a pro-natalist stance (see Tapinos, Hugon, Vimard 2002; Almagioni 2002). In some way, the death of the old president in December 1993 thus had an indirect but important implication for the emergence of the ‘problem of population’ in Côte d’Ivoire. During that time, competition for political succession was fierce: his heir-apparent Henri Konan Bedié played the ethno-nationalist card against his rival Alassane Dramane Ouattara, evicting him from elections with the accusation of being a Burkina Faso national, wanting to rule Côte d’Ivoire in favour of the many immigrants living there. In a country witnessing the rise of social competition and tensions due to growing inequality (Akindès 2000; Losch 2000; Démbelé 2002; Marie 2002; Roubaud 2003; Hugon 2003), this gave way to a specific kind of public attention to the dynamics of ‘population’. According to the 1988 census, 28 per cent of the population had to be classed as ‘foreigners’, with Burkinabé and Malians accounting for 80 per cent of this category (Brou and Charbit 1994; Serhan 2002). Many of those ‘strangers’ – 41 per cent of them – were born in Ivory Coast; nearly half (47 per cent) of those born abroad had been residence of the country for at least ten years. Although the percentage had fallen slightly by the 1998 census, more than a quarter of the total population still was of ‘non-nationals’; some of the previsions made by demographers, based on annual rates of immigration and fertility (while recognizing the quasi-absence of processes of naturalization), forecast a near future (2018) when Ivorian nationals would be exceeded by strangers (see Tapinos 2001). In such a context, population policies emphasizing responsibility in reproduction had an implicit, hidden potential in contributing to the stigmatization of ‘traditional’, irresponsible reproductive conduct as a danger for the development of the nation. Moreover, although no formal criteria for targeting specific ethnic or national identities were proposed by AIBEF’s campaign, in our exchanges with the agents, the ‘Dyula’ ethnic identity – typically represented as a category of Mandé-speaking Muslim immigrants to Abidjan from northern Côte d’Ivoire and from northern neighbouring countries – stood out as a crucial part of the population to work with, because of their ‘traditional’ habitus concerning marriage, gender relations, fertility. In other terms, the activities undertaken by agents in the Dyula local communities (‘cours dioula’) of Treichville, Adjamé, or Abobo, were perceived and represented as campaigns aiming

Reproduction, Responsibility and Citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire


at the creation of awareness and a sense of responsibility among the part of the population that was hostile to contraception and, in general, to ‘modernity’: ‘northerners’ and ‘strangers’ altogether. After describing the emergence of the ‘reproductive health’ discourse at the Cairo conference of 1994, this chapter then moves on to illuminate how it was actually grafted on to Ivorian historicity and political culture. Our main aim is to show how it participated implicitly in the construction of a public discourse on population wherein the forms of moral subjectivation and individual responsibility that had emerged and had been shaped during the conference, became the carriers of discriminatory potential. In order to bring to light this transformation, we have decided to concentrate our analysis mainly on the documents produced by international institutions concerned on the one hand, and by Ivorian government on the other, thereby leaving ethnography in the background. Before starting our enquiry, however, we would like to shortly discuss the general pertinence and appropriateness of the concept of ‘responsibility’ – as it has been shaped and used in the context of contemporary governmentality – in accounting for the regimes of reproduction of historical African societies.

Reproduction from Debt to Responsibility In his general history of the African continent, John Iliffe writes about Africans as ‘frontiermen of mankind’ (Iliffe 1995: 1), stressing how the vicissitudes of populating difficult environments and building enduring societies, have given a particular shape to African social institutions, making them assign high value to descent and fertility. For the longest time, African history has been one in which the ‘maximization of numbers’ (ibid.) was indeed crucial. Notwithstanding the distinctiveness of Iliffe’s approach, his outline of the demographic longue durée of African societies is congruent with many anthropological and historical accounts. His image of the ‘frontiermen of mankind’ recalls, for instance, the dynamics of colonization of ‘internal frontiers’, which Igor Kopytoff (1987) highlights as a recurring scheme in the formation of African polities. Such colonization, wherein the creation of a new society was made by settlers breaking away from their former polity, ascribed a crucial role to fertility. The institutions resulting from the colonization of internal frontiers have been studied in depth. Juridical and political relations, connecting ‘first-comers’ and ‘newcomers’ within a territory, have been among the most studied alongside the symbolic meanings of fertility and the notion


Giulia Almagioni and Armando Cutolo

of ‘wealth in people’ (Etienne 1975; Bledsoe 1980; Argenti 2007). Since the 1970s, especially through the enquiry of Marxist anthropologists, the relations of authority and dependence implied by these regimes of social reproduction have been brought to light. Authors such as Claude Meillassoux (1975) and Emmanuel Terray (1975) have analysed the complex relations of debt and credit between opposing generations. Constitutive of the moral debt children owed to their parents, elders, ancestors and thus of their wider relations of social and symbolic dependence, was their having been conceived and born, fed and raised, having received access to marriage and to land for production. The compensation of this ‘debt of life’ (Solinas 2007; Cutolo 2007; Meillassoux 2007) demanded obedience and the labour of youths for elders. A scheme of deferred reciprocity was at work, binding generations in complex moral regimes of exchange. The services and the labour devolved to elders were not intended to settle the debt but to acknowledge it, restating the subaltern status of youths. The only way to establish balance was to reproduce the same debt in a reversed relation: by becoming a creditor, that is, by giving birth to descendants who would eventually have to provide labour and services to one’s own generation just like the latter had done for the preceding. Hence, what had been received from/given to ancestors had to be necessarily given to/received from descendants in a framework whereby progression towards seniority and ancestry was a reproduction of personhood and social status (Abélès and Collard 1987; Attias-Donfut and Rosenmayr 1994). Women’s procreative work accrued a great part of the burden created by such a regime of reproduction. This burden was also worsened by their mobilization for inter-group alliances, and in the control elders exerted over marriages in order to enforce their authority on youths (Meillassoux 1975; Moore 1988: 42–128; for a more recent study, Chauveau and Richards 2008). The cultural complexity and the historical depth of these apparatuses of social reproduction have long been disregarded by the demographic scholarship dealing with African societies. This is apparent in studies focusing on the transition towards low fertility and its causal connections with development. The specific literature is vast enough to render references a difficult task in this domain, but we can take John Caldwell’s ‘theory of fertility decline’ as a prominent paradigm (1982; see also Caldwell, Caldwell and Caldwell 1987; Caldwell and Caldwell 1991; Caldwell, Orobuloye and Caldwell 1992). Inherently connected to what the post-colonial historian Dipesh Chakrabarty has defined as the ‘historicist’ and ‘teleological’ episteme of modernization theory (Chakrabarty 2000), Caldwell’s neo-Malthusian standpoint on demographic transition is based on the passage from a ‘natural’ fertility to a chosen one: that is,

Reproduction, Responsibility and Citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire


to a ‘controlled’ fertility governed through contraception. This results in the construction of a great divide opposing African (i.e. non-western, traditional) reproductive behaviour to a modern (western) attitude based on choice and rationality. In spite of what one might think, the notion of ‘natural fertility’ does not refer to an opposition between nature and culture within reproductive behaviour. On the contrary, ‘cultural’ stands here on the same side as ‘natural’ because the fundamental divide is the one opposing ‘traditional’ to ‘modern’ regimes of sexuality and procreation. Thus, fertility is considered ‘natural’ insofar it is not affected by responsible decisions made by individuals. Following the definition of the historical demographer Louis Henry (1953, 1961), natural fertility (‘fécondité naturelle’) has to be considered the result of a reproductive behaviour where the cumulating succession of births, within a couple’s reproductive career, does not produce any specific decision concerning future pregnancies. Indeed, demographers have soon acknowledged that fertility is influenced by ‘proximate determinants’ (Bongaarts 1978) that are (also) social and cultural, as local traditions and beliefs or as power relations between sexes and generations. Moreover, it is important to remember that as early as the 1950s, anthropologists interested in demography such as Frank Lorimer (1954), Meyer Fortes (1954), Audrey Richards and Priscilla Reining (1954) had stressed how fertility, even in pre-transitional societies, is shaped in complex ways by social institutions (see Solinas 1992, Kertzer and Fricke 1997). Nonetheless, from the neo-Malthusian point of view, cultural and social institutions do not produce ‘decisions’ taken by acting subjects, but only shared, ‘traditional’ behaviours; in a collective book edited more than twenty years after his first definition, Louis Henry (1977) defended the notion of ‘natural fertility’ in these same terms, reaffirming its analytical value against its critics. The making of individual choice as a central pivot in fertility studies has enabled the representation of African (and in general, non-western) reproductive ‘cultures’ as standing in themselves against modernity: that is, as a constriction that limits freedom and responsible decisions concerning procreation. Since the 1980s, however, many critiques have targeted this idea of demographic transition as a passage to ‘control and choice’ and the notion of ‘natural fertility’ itself. Its simplified, linear evolutionist frame has been called into question (Handwerker 1986a, 1986b; Greenhalgh 1995, Livi Bacci 1995) as well as its representation of ‘pre-transitional’ social actors as being passively directed by local rules (Carter 1995). Moreover, it has been observed that the opposition between a ‘natural’ and a ‘controlled’ fertility is grounded in the implicit assumption that the latter can only take the form of a repressive intervention,


Giulia Almagioni and Armando Cutolo

i.e. contraception. As we stressed above, fertility in African societies has historically been the object of active social strategies of maximization. Thus, obscuring this implies not only obscuring their agency, but also the heavy reproductive work required of women (Tabet 1985). We cannot go, here, into the depths of the demographic debate. We want just to recall the ‘great divide’ that took shape in it: on the one side, a ‘traditional’ reproductive actor, driven by culture, unconsciously adhering to a regime of natural fertility; on the other side, a modern rational subject, able to choose and to exert a control on reproduction that is univocally understood in terms of a tactical restraint of fertility. This divide was congruent enough with modernization theory and development studies that it can be said to have been underlying the population policies promoted by international organizations until the last decade of the 1980s. It contributed to the shaping of an implicit Malthusian discourse whereby development in African countries was connected with their transition towards controlled – that is, low – fertility. Since the beginning of the 1990s, however, the field of ‘political demography’ (Almagioni 2002) has undergone important transformations. In the ‘activity programs’ of the United Nations Fund for Population (UNFPA), in the documents of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), in the statements of the World Health Organization (WHO), the analytic relations linking development to birth control started to be reconfigured through the use of new categories, keywords and values. Reproduction and health, sexuality and care, body and society were connected by a new syntax that formed new individual subjects called to take on not only the control of their procreative behaviour, but also – and above all – their responsibilities towards their family, their community and themselves. This new approach, where simplistic schemes linking development to demographic transition were at least to some extent called into question – was intertwined with the global rise of a new (neo)liberal governmentality, where the individual and their moral conduct became central to policies regarding reproduction (Rose 1990, 1998, 1999; Bayart 2004: 251–317). Governance started being implicitly based on ‘a type of power which both acts on and through the agency and subjectivity of individuals as ethically free and rational agents’ (Shore and Wright 1997: 6). Individual responsibility, self-improvement and self-management (Rose 1990, 1998) became the crucial components of a governmentality where, as Michel Foucault pointed out writing about liberalism, techniques of government and techniques of the self weave the shape of the subject (Foucault 1976, 2004).

Reproduction, Responsibility and Citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire


This is all the more evident in population policies. In his genealogy of modern governmentality, Foucault showed how the emergence of the concept of ‘population’ in political theory, affirmed the idea of a ‘multiplicity of natural kind’ (Foucault 2004: 45, our translation; see also Cutolo 2008: 9–11) that has to be governed through ‘totalizing’ forms of knowledge and, at the same time, through ‘individualizing’ techniques, aimed at inducing processes of subjectivation that orient individual conducts. The historical development of what Michel Foucault (1976) called biopower – a governmental power aimed at protecting and improving the life of the population - was seen by him as constitutively dependent on the production of subjectivity (and thus of moral responsibility) within social fields of experience that had been previously unknown to political discourse and to regulation (Foucault 1976: 190-191). The field of reproduction is, in this sense, a most significant one. There are few domains of human action where the biopolitical characters of governmentality can be more easily observed in their dependence on moral subjectivation. This is expressed by the assumption of personal responsibility towards children and towards one’s own family; by the responsibility of being a good parent, which is, in turn, connected to responsibility towards society. The latter can be understood as responsibility in educating and correctly upbringing the children as well as in demographic or ecological terms, thinking of society as a population whose wellbeing depends on the correct reproductive behaviour of everyone. Population should be kept at a reasonable size, avoiding an excessive increase that would place the sustainability of its economy and its balanced use of resources in danger. Last but not least, among the responsibilities of the individual, concerning reproduction, there is also the responsibility towards himself – a central constituent of ‘modern’ subjectivity. Procreating in safe economic conditions, aspiring to have a reasonable number of children, caring for the health of the mother and acknowledging women’s central role in reproduction, shows the awareness and the modern attitudes of a good citizen, his independence from cultural traditions and from communitarian moral dictates. In the governmentality turn of the 1990s, the construction of a new subject was thus at stake. This subject emerged in new population policies thanks to the adoption of an individual, moral and socially aware standpoint on reproduction, which coincided in turn with voluntary adherence to modern rules of conduct. If we recall African historical regimes of reproduction, it could be said that the encompassment of reproductive actors within population policies implies their extraction from the network of debts and reciprocity that binds them to their communities (and,


Giulia Almagioni and Armando Cutolo

ideally, to their ancestors). The social (and contextual) construction of the person, where moral debts and credits make it relate and depend on Others, has to be reformed into the individuality of a subject who is held socially and morally responsible for his choices. In order to understand these concepts and to contextualize them, we will now briefly explore the Cairo International conference on population and development, from which they emerged in their present configuration and were launched in the international public space.

The Emergence of a New Discourse on Reproduction in Cairo, 1994 In September 1994, the third International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) was held in Cairo. It was sponsored by the United Nations and coordinated by UNFPA together with its Department for Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis.  The resulting Program of Action, which was to become the steering document for international population policies in the following years, immediately drew scholars and journalists’ attention. This was only partially due to the important innovations concerning demographic policies it proposed: the striking feature of the Program of Action was, as we are going to see, the emergence of a new perspective and of a new discourse on the ‘population problem’ in international public sphere. The ICPD was the result of a complex process of construction which had begun in 1991 when a network of committees, regional conferences and groups of experts had been mobilized by United Nations Economic and Social Council. Moreover, as the foreword of the Program of Action stated in paragraph 1.5, the 1994 Cairo ICPD had been conceived of in continuity with previous International Conferences on Population organized by the UN in Bucharest (1974) and in Mexico City (1984). Nonetheless, many of the new formulations, categories and concepts that came into play in Cairo had emerged at the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna in the previous year (June 1993). There, new nexuses connecting ‘population’, ‘sustained economic growth’ and ‘sustainable development’ had been introduced by experts with the explicit aim of building an international consensus as to how the ‘population problem’ should have been analysed and faced in a larger frame, with policies addressing empowerment and the definition of new rights. From this point of view, the Cairo ICPD appeared to have a mainly political character: it was not intended to advance scientific knowledge on the dynamics of world population, but to obtain explicit engagements on

Reproduction, Responsibility and Citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire


population policies and the acceptance of new priorities from sovereign states. Such an aim, however, did not exclude the presence of scientific discourses at the conference. On the contrary, the exchanges and the discussions concerning the Program of Action involved international experts and academics that were mobilized to provide the ICPD both legitimacy and scientific credibility. ‘Special Lectures’ held by leading scholars were provided throughout the conference. The writing of the Program was a delicate political task. Representatives of one-hundred and seventy-seven states, of the European Union, of the Holy See and of many international organizations and NGOs entered an intense discussion around the text, evaluating and negotiating it phrase by phrase, word by word. Ad hoc committees were created to find appropriate ‘wordings’ when conflicting positions concerning specific themes arose and compromises had to be made – as happened around abortion, forms of contraception, of marriage and family, etc. (see Mertens 1994). Long negotiations were needed, for instance, to make the term ‘individual’ accepted when family planning services and contraception were at stake. Many delegates, and particularly those of the Holy See, objected that referring to ‘the individual’ as the beneficiary of reproductive health services would have been tantamount to accepting all those ‘anomalous’ figures such as ‘single parents’, ‘homosexuals’, etc., as legitimate reproductive subjects. In general, the political and cultural disagreements and resistance that manifested during the conference were overcome by the complex and meticulous weaving of negotiations by coordinators. The Program of Action was thus finally approved by all the official delegates, including those of the Holy See, of the Islamic and of the Latin-American countries, who nonetheless maintained their perplexities and reservations. These were recorded and printed as an appendix (Oral statements in explanation of position, of reservations and of a general nature on the Key Actions) and declared as not binding for the implementation of the Program itself. The latter was written with tactical, ambiguous wordings, in order to render it acceptable by all delegations. Moreover, it acknowledged local forms of implementations, respecting the sovereign right of each country, consistent with national laws and development priorities, with full respect for the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of its people, and in conformity with universally recognized international human rights. (Program of Action, p. 11)

Such an emphasis on national sovereignty and culture, showed that the delegates were all well aware of how the developed combination of the


Giulia Almagioni and Armando Cutolo

new discourse on population with the discourse of human rights had a great potential to influence future public debates and policy planning, as well as global public opinion. It showed, in other terms, the awareness of the political implications of institutional conferences such as the ICPD. These public events are connected in a close network, and should be seen – as the representatives of the different countries rightly did – as constituents of an effective apparatus of global of governmentality, progressively constructing regimes of truth that are developed and refined meeting after meeting. Paragraphs 1.5 and 1.6 of the Program, ‘Preamble’, give us a very precise idea of this work of construction: 1.5 The International Conference on Population and Development is not an isolated event. Its Program of Action builds on the considerable international consensus that has developed since the World Population Conference at Bucharest in 1974 and the International Conference on Population at Mexico City in 1984, to consider the broad issues of and interrelationships between population, sustained economic growth and sustainable development, and advances in the education, economic status and empowerment of women. The 1994 Conference was explicitly given a broader mandate on development issues than previous population conferences, reflecting the growing awareness that population, poverty, patterns of production and consumption and the environment are so closely interconnected that none of them can be considered in isolation. 1.6 The International Conference on Population and Development follows and builds on other important recent international activities, and its recommendations should be supportive of, consistent with and based on the agreements reached at the following: … (Program of Action, pp. 4–6)

A long list of meetings and conferences continues in paragraph 1.6,1 all promoted by those actors of ‘international civil society’ participating in what Jean-François Bayart has described as a ‘global governmentality’, working within biopolitical logics and orienting local governments (Bayart 2004: 104–105). Each one of the venues functioned, as a matter of fact, as a location for the elaboration and refinement of a global meta-discourse producing categories and concepts that were circularly presented and represented as scientifically sound and undisputable, and were progressively included among the principles and keywords presiding over the allocation of financial aids, development programs, etc. This is a very good example of an ‘apparatus’ (dispositif), defined in the Foucauldian sense as a: heterogeneous set including discourses, institutions, organizational frameworks, decisions concerning rules, laws, administrative procedures, scientific

Reproduction, Responsibility and Citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire


statements, philosophical, moral and philanthropic declarations.  (Foucault 1994: 299; our translation)

Foucault has stressed that we should account for the multiform features of apparatuses by referring to their tactical functions, that is, to the character of their historical formations responding to some necessity in the government of the population (ibid.). The Cairo ICPD of 1994 can be seen, in this sense, as a central moment in the reformulation of a governmental discourse that had to face, on the one hand, the failures of previous policies of demographic control (West-African total fertility rate was reaching a new peak in the same years), and, on the other hand, had to respond to the new trends and transformation of the above-spoken neoliberal governmentality. The poetics of ‘civil society’ and the rhetoric of the ‘individual’ (Bayart 2004: 251–315; Ferguson 2006: 25–112) thereby shaped the character of a new responsible, self-aware subject that should have been at the core of the new policies (Shore and Wright 1997; Rose 1999, 1998)

Priorities and Keywords The Program of Action was signed by all participants in the ICPD. It set out official strategies, together with conceptual and linguistic innovations that soon turned into new international keywords, around which recommendations to decision-makers and institutional discourses on reproduction and development started to revolve. The fundamental innovation – which would have in turn provided a rationale for further transformations in international policies – was to be found in a radical inversion of the usual perspective on reproduction: considerations of fertility rates and demographic quantitative analysis ceased to be at the centre of the scene, replaced by the construction of a new subject who was enabled to choose and to construct his/her reproductive behaviour following a responsible conduct. The reduction of fertility was thus no longer the main goal to be reached; the right to choose freely and to personally conduct one’s own reproductive career, and the right to ‘reproductive health’ – especially on the part of women – was the new focal point. ‘Family planning’ still had a relevant space in the implementation of policies, but just as a particular instrument aimed at enabling and expanding the space of choice, not as a tool to be used to impact directly on population growth. This kind of apparatus required the use of the means communication and information in order to develop awareness and moral subjectivity in


Giulia Almagioni and Armando Cutolo

the domain of sexuality and procreation. State-run and NGO services in reproductive health had to be formed to realize the new goals and new priorities: responding to the needs and protecting the rights of individuals. These rights were structured into three hierarchically related forms: a) the right to reproductive health implied b) the right to a safe and satisfying sexuality, which in turn implied c) the right to free choice concerning reproduction. Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. Reproductive health therefore implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. (Program of Action, p. 59)

Those general rights depended, for their realization, from particular rights such as: the right of men and women to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as other methods of their choice for regulation of fertility which are not against the law, and the right of access to appropriate health-care services. (Ibid.)

Most of all, they depended on the ‘right to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence, as expressed in human rights documents’ (ibid., p. 60) and, specifically, on ‘the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children’ (ibid.). All these categories, values and keywords, such as ‘individual’, ‘needs’, ‘rights’, ‘freedom’, ‘choice’ and – above all – ‘reproductive health’, responded to the tactical necessity of overcoming many countries hostility to overt anti-natalist policies centred on birth control and contraception. This was apparent, as we have recounted above, in the discussions that took place at the ICPD sessions and was stressed by Catholic (see Grimes 1994) and Marxist critics (McIntosh and Finkle1994), who maintained that the old motivations of controlling the demographics of developing countries were still there, hidden behind the new language of rights. Other critiques, made by scholars in social sciences and demography, called into question the scientific consistency of the relations between demographic growth and development that were taken as a given at the Conference (Hartmann 1995; Ginsburg and Rapp 1995; Falquet 2003), and the neo-Malthusian, teleological scheme upon which they relied (see Hartmann 1995; Demeny 1994).

Reproduction, Responsibility and Citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire


These critiques did not hinder the hegemonic character of the ‘reproductive health’ discourse in new population policies and its adoption by the humanitarian international sector. They went together with the establishment of a new reproductive subject, constructed by two distinct, but logically related modalities. The first was the ‘discovery’ of women as the main actors of reproduction. The rhetoric of reproductive health was manifestly based on them: on their needs, their rights, their choices, their empowerment: Advancing gender equality and equity and the empowerment of women, and the elimination of all kinds of violence against women, and ensuring women’s ability to control their own fertility, are cornerstones of population and development-related programs. (Program of action, ‘Preamble’, p. 12)

The other modality of construction designed a figure less defined by gender, but explicitly marked by a new ethos that was at the same time invoked and considered a goal to be reached: the ethos of responsibility in reproductive matters. Such a responsibility was to be expressed by the exercise of individual choice, and, hence, by the refusal of ‘traditional’ behaviour and by resistance to the expectations (and to the authority) of one’s own community. Escaping the logics of dependence and debt such as those that we have outlined above, responsible reproductive choice had to relate only to an individual or collective wellbeing. The latter could be produced only by forms of moral subjectivation where ‘the government of Self and Others’ had to become the leading path towards modernity.

The Emergence of a Population Policy in Côte d’Ivoire In 1991, three years before the Cairo ICPD, the journal Politique Africaine devoted a special issue to population policies in Africa. In the thematic introduction, Francis Gendreau and Patrice Vimard highlighted the political implications binding the economic crisis undergone by African countries since the 1980s and the ‘conversion’ of their governments to population policies oriented toward the reduction of birth rates (Gendreau, Vimard 1991). Lacking any specific policy in this domain until the end of the 1980s and having kept a rather pro-natalist stance, African governments were pushed by transnational actors such as the World Bank and the United Nation Fund for Population to adopt a proper population policy, in order to deal with the crises. Widening the analytical frame beyond the economic constraints imposed by financial aid, Gendreau and Vimard


Giulia Almagioni and Armando Cutolo

stressed the hegemonic role of the networks of experts and consultants. Through the control exerted by international institutions on ‘knowledge transfer’, a ‘scientific’ perspective on reproduction, which instituted a relation connecting fertility and development, was introduced in the public and governmental discourse (ibid.). In some African countries, this shift started already at the end of the 1980s. In Côte d’Ivoire, however, it only entered the mainstream later on. Until Houphouët-Boigny’s passing, the Partie Démocratique de Côte d’Ivoire maintained a fierce pro-natalist stance. This was in line with the specificity of the country’s political economy, shaped by a development scheme whose foundations were laid in the 1930s by colonial administrations, but was continued and amplified by the Houphouettist regime. In its frame, the agricultural potential of the under-populated Ivorian territory (the total population in 1950 still did not reach four million) had to be developed through an increase of disposable labour force (Chauveau and Dozon 1985, 1987). The ‘natural growth’ of the ‘autochthonous’ population being manifestly insufficient, especially in the southern forest areas suitable for cocoa and tropical plantation, a system of labour transfer was put in place, based mainly on immigration from Haute-Volta and other northern neighbouring countries such as Mali and Guinea. A state-run syndicate for the management of labour’s mobility was created (Brou and Charbit 1995; Serhan 2002), and among the measures implemented by colonial governments was the annexation of the demographically densest part of the Haute-Volta territory to the Ivorian colony from 1932 to 1947. After independence, Felix Houphouët-Boigny transformed this scheme with a moderate pan-Africanist stance, calling fellow Africans from other countries to share the opportunities and to realize the potentialities of the Ivorian territory with their work. The ‘politique de la porte ouverte’ (‘open door policy’), favouring immigration of foreign labourers in plantation areas, nonetheless, was coupled with a constant interest in fertility and demographic ‘natural growth’. From 1920 to 1955, the annual growth rate fluctuated around 1.4 per cent. It was only as the nation approached independence (1960) that the mortality rate declined and life expectancy at birth increased along with the continuity of the high fertility rate, producing the desired demographic increase and bringing it up to 5 per cent between 1955 and 1975. Following national censuses, 3.5 per cent of the increase was due to natural growth and 1.5 per cent to immigration. The latter increased in the following years: if in 1975, 22 per cent of the population was made of ‘foreigners’, in 1988 the same figure reached 28 per cent, although such an increase also resulted from the lack of naturalization of immigrant offspring into Ivorian citizenship.

Reproduction, Responsibility and Citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire


Although the annual population growth rate decreased to 3.8 per cent between 1975 and 1988, it was still among the highest rates of the ‘developing’ countries (2.1%) and of sub-Saharan Africa. The total fertility rate still amounted to an average of 6.8 births per woman in 1988. Moreover, until the second half of the 1980s, the Houphouët-Boigny regime (which could be still considered, at that time, as representing the interests of Ivorian grand planteurs) was whole-heartedly pro-natalist. Population growth was explicitly considered to have contributed to the ‘Ivorian miracle’ of the Sixties and Seventies, when the country rapidly became the leading producer of cacao in West-Africa. The economic crisis and the political changes that affected the country since the end of the 1980s, the fall of cacao’s price on global markets, the state’s deficit and the first signals of the forthcoming exhaustion of the forest areas needed for the advancement of the ‘cacao frontier’, called the Ivorian scheme’s sustainability into question. Houphouët-Boigny was forced to accept the rigours of international structural adjustment plans and, with it, he was forced to accept multiparty democracy by movements headed by students and other civil society actors. Alassane Ouattara, an IMF technocrat, was appointed Prime Minister in 1991. It was under the leadership of Ouattara that the Ivorian government started – although hesitatingly – to assume the existence of a ‘population problem’. In 1991, an official document addressing this theme was published with the title, ‘Déclaration de politique de dévéloppement des ressources humaines’. In rather generic terms, it announced a future when the increase of Ivorian population – still considered to be a positive feature in itself – would have called for a general improvement in infrastructure. Although the ‘declaration’ was politically inoperative, it created a starting point for subsequent Ivorian population policies, and was constantly recalled by associations, NGO and humanitarian organizations supporting information campaigns for the diffusion of techniques of contraception. Among the prominent actors in these campaigns were the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs and Population Service International, a US based non-profit organization and a member of the US Global Leadership Coalition, providing ‘behaviour change communications services’ focusing on contraception, sexual health and family planning (Almagioni 2002). It took six more years for the Ivorian government to release the Déclaration de politique nationale de population (1997), the first official declaration recognizing ‘the population problem’ as a major national issue. This Déclaration was preceded and, so to say, prepared by the kind of transfer in knowledge and technologies that Gendreau and Vimard highlighted as being the main tool of influence used by western-based


Giulia Almagioni and Armando Cutolo

international organizations in order to orient African governments’ population policies: a network of specialists, experts, instructors, consultants, establishing scientific truths connecting demography and development, topics and keywords, conceptual hierarchies and priorities producing an effective ‘thematic and methodological subjection’ of local decisions makers (Gendreau, Vimard 1991: 10–11). In 1994, Côte d’Ivoire adhered to the Demographic and Health Surveys world program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), aimed at furnishing the decision makers with ‘accurate and representative data on population, health, HIV, and nutrition’. The results of the survey were published in 1995 as an official document, Enquête demographique et de santé 1994. In the introduction, the Ivorian director of the enquiry, Guessan Bi Kouassi, thanks the Macro International Inc. for having assisted the Ivorian personnel in every step of the research, from its ‘conception’ to ‘statistical elaborations’ and then in the writing of the ‘final report’ (Enquête 1994: XVIII). It is interesting, for our purposes, to read the prudent, implicit neoMalthusian approach of this document. While admitting that a population policy had still not been formulated, the Ivorian government declared itself aware that a demographically young population such as the Ivorian can be seen as an opportunity and not as a doom only if the infrastructures, the services and the disposable resources for its wellbeing were adequate (Enquête 1994: 7). The scientific truth of the nexus connecting population growth with development was thus finally established in Ivorian public space, and the advent of a population policy was announced. In the following year (1996), a Plan national de dévéloppement sanitaire 1996–2005 was released by the government, which made another step forward in this direction. Invoking a population policy based on the recently established concept of ‘reproductive health’, the Plan highlighted again the urgency to reach a new equilibrium between population growth, with the growth of social demand it implies, and the offer of infrastructures and services by the State. The demand/offer scheme was soon adopted by some of the Ivorian media, as it allowed for depoliticized accounts of the new striking inequalities and consequent social tensions produced by structural adjustment, i.e. by the liberalization and privatization processes impacting Ivorian society. A good example can be found in an article published on 11 July 1994 by the journalist Jean-Baptiste Akrou in Fraternité Matin: The crisis and the repeated strikes in African universities, the thousands of kids not allowed to attend secondary schools, the overcrowded classes, the

Reproduction, Responsibility and Citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire


difficulties in health care are just the expression of an offer that has been largely exceeded by demand. (J.-B. Akrou Fraternité-Matin 1994)

The same article quotes Minister Zadi Zaourou’s plea for a modern approach to population policy, which ought to draw upon criteria of economic rationality. To strengthen his argument against uncontrolled demographic growth, Akrou also recalled President Henry Konan Bedié’s declarations on family planning, which had been tactically framed in ‘reproductive health’ terms, i.e. as a plan to protect motherhood, to improve the safety of pregnancy and parturition and to take care of the well-being of children. This emergence of a reproductive health discourse in public speech showed that the international government keywords of the Cairo conference held only a few weeks before were already circulating among decision-makers. Three years later, the Ivorian Déclaration nationale de politique de population of 1997 toed the same line, but with some peculiarities due to Ivorian historical and political context: in Côte d’Ivoire the ‘population problem’ was emerging together with ‘the problem of strangers’, in a biopolitical bundle whereby demography, citizenship and nationalism were connected together. In the Déclaration, the need to control immigration and population growth was part of the same program. This responded to the specific character of Côte d’Ivoire’s ‘immigrant population’: the de facto absence of accessible naturalization procedures had produced a ‘foreign population’ born in the country that – with high fertility rates like the rest of the populace – had been rapidly growing for nearly seventy years. This of course was visible mainly through the abstractions of censuses and of demographic projections. In Ivorian society, the descendants of immigrants lived within networks of social relations that, until the rise of ethno-nationalism and of the question of national citizenship, were structured following informal, concrete, arrangements – although the latter were becoming increasingly tense especially in the rural areas of the ‘cocoa frontier’, where competition for land was creating strife (Chauveau 2000; 2017). The distinctive Ivorian connection binding population and immigration was not the only particular feature that transformed the global discourse of reproductive health to coincide with local conditions. Another such feature could be found in the weakening – and often the wiping out – of those concepts and values, such as ‘choice’, ‘individual’, ‘rights’, on which the Cairo Conference had been built. The rhetorical space left vacant by their obliteration was instead occupied by an obsessive reference to ‘development’, standing in an ideological continuity with the Houphouettist formulation synthesized by the national motto ‘Union,


Giulia Almagioni and Armando Cutolo

discipline, travail’. A communitarian and authoritarian idiom, an organicist vision of a disciplined society where the different (ethnic, gender, social and professional) identities were fixed in their social niches and should have orderly concurred with development. This could be seen in the governmental Déclaration de la Politique Nationale de la Santé de la Reproduction of 1998, where although the concept of reproductive health was adopted, no reference to rights and to subjective, individual, needs was made. This text merely aims for the realization of a few related goals: reduction of mortality and morbidity for infants and mothers and improvement of the sexual behaviour of youth. In the same year (September 1998), the ministerial document, Politique et Services de la Santé de la Reproduction et Planification Familiale, deepened the same political approach to reproductive health. In the frame of its argumentation, Ivorian policies did not aim at providing instruments to enable free choice and auto-determination in reproductive matters, instead an educational campaign explicitly aimed at behavioural change was invoked. The end goal seemed to be obedience, rather than moral subjectivation and personal responsibility. This approach was paradigmatically shown by the publication of the governmental document Stratégie Nationale de Communications pour le Changement de Comportement de Santé de la Reproduction et Planification Familiale 1999–2003. Here, ‘behaviour change’ was planned based on an ‘information–education–communication’ schema. A specific institutional apparatus (‘Service National d’IEC’) was thus created to overcome popular resistance to contraception and planned parenthood, with the cooperation of the Centre for Communication Programs of Johns Hopkins University. Indeed, radio and TV shows diffusing the culture of family planning were frequently broadcast, some of them becoming quite popular, such as the series Aka ne de me with the singer Aicha Koné, where contraception and the modernization of sexual behaviour was addressed. In the introduction to the Stratégie document, however, the Minister of Health Maurice Kakou Guikahué wrote that informing citizens was not enough. Some control and verification of citizens’ ‘knowledge, attitudes and behaviour’ concerning contraception would be necessary in order to test the efficacy of what had begun to resemble, in this text, a process of indoctrination. As the economic crisis was worsening, obtaining the obedience of citizens was urgent; they had to learn and accept that the responsibility for the well-being of the community and of themselves rested on their shoulders. The neoliberal model of a government through individual choice was thus blurred with a historically well-established authoritarian indoctrination, aiming at subjugation instead of subjectivation. Rather than

Reproduction, Responsibility and Citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire


moral, individual responsibility shaping the subject’s conduct, a shared obedience to the words of authority was asked of the good citizen. The downplaying of individual choice and subjectivity, in turn, implicitly highlighted the relevance of the communitarian dimension: it was about obeying ‘modern’ knowledge on reproductive health and, hence, state authority, instead of obeying the ‘logic of the debt’ (Marie 2002) conveyed by elders’ ‘traditional’ authority. This is why the same publication called upon the construction of anthropological knowledge of local cultures of reproduction, as it was seen as a useful instrument to improve communication and to bypass local resistances. There was thus a culturalist and communitarian orientation, in the Ivorian reproductive health policies of the second half of the 1990s that merged with – and often prevailed over – the classic neo-Malthusian representation of reproduction as a field of practices to be (re)structured by individual rational decisions. But this communitarian approach had a specific potential to stigmatize those social identities the state represented as particularly hostile to modernization and to ‘legibility’ (Scott 1998), and thus to its control over the population’s reproductive life. In the period of our observation of Ivorian reproductive health policies, the ‘foreign’ part of the population of Côte d’Ivoire was easily represented in such terms. In public discourse a typical ‘Other’ of ‘modernity’ was identified, and this coincided with the immigrants representing 28 per cent of the population in the 1988 census. In the ethno-nationalist Ivorian discourse of those years (see Losch, 2000; Dozon 2000; Cutolo 2010), the counterpart of the Ivorian imagined community was represented by the ‘Dyula’ identity, as an ideal incarnation of the non-national, the stranger. The Dyula, as a social category, merged immigrants coming from Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea with Ivorians from the northern regions. But it was not only, or even predominantly, a matter of shared ‘northern’ (i.e. Mandé and Voltaic) ethnic features. It was their shared subaltern role in the development scheme we outlined above that constructed their social equivalence in Ivorian society: their provenance from a fuzzy representation of the ‘North’, producing immigrants coming to the south as manual workers, small planters, traditional and petty traders. This subaltern equivalence, which resulted in a single Dyula category, was subsumed in the 1990s in what became known as ‘the problem of the strangers’. The ‘Dyula’ were now targeted systematically in public and institutional discourses on security, development or public health. They were depicted as the backward, or rather as the anti-modern part of the population. Together with immigrants, they were represented as a dangerous burden for the nation to carry.


Giulia Almagioni and Armando Cutolo

A typical example of such a discourse in its ‘security’ inflection can be found in the representation of ‘Dyula quarters’ and, in general, of neighbourhoods inhabited by ‘strangers’ in larger towns. They were defined as quartiers criminogènes (‘crime-producing districts’) by the Ivorian Ministry of Home Affairs, and as nids de malfrats (‘robber dens’) by the Economic and Social Council (CEI) installed by Bedié’s government. In the political debate of the 1990s, the myth of ‘strangers’ as the main cause of the poor, dirty, unhealthy conditions of working-class neighbourhoods and suburban shantytowns – a myth convincingly deconstructed by Alphonse Yapi-Diahou (2000) – was endlessly recycled in the local press and in institutional communication. The Dyula language, historically the lingua franca of the markets in this part of West Africa, was depicted as the language of the street, of illiterate strangers who could not speak French, of shantytowns; when education was the topic, Dyula were presented as preferring to send children to Koranic rather than state schools. It was thus not by chance, then, that in those years, the ‘Dyula’ communities were often chosen as targets of intervention by organizations promoting family planning and reproductive practices, as they were considered the most reluctant to use contraception because of Islam and a cultural traditionalism. While in popular and journalistic discourse ethnicity was widely used, institutional and public discourse concerning strangers spoke in ‘scientific’ terms. Already in 1996, the group of intellectuals close to President Bédié known as CURDIPHE – elaborating the ethno-nationalist ideology known as ‘ivoirité’ – insisted on the dangerous ‘high birth rate’ of ‘immigrants’ and ‘strangers’ living in the country (see Cutolo 2010: 539–546). Referring to the 1998 national census, a report from the Economic and Social Council was published in the newspaper, Le Jour (8 April 1999), entitled ‘Immigration en Côte d’Ivoire; le seuil du tolerable est largement dépassé’.2 It stated that the 26 per cent mark for ‘strangers’ was ‘well over the limit’ of what the country could bear, posing problems of both demography and sovereignty. The social scientist Moriba Touré’s reply in the same newspaper (6 May 1999), accusing the report’s authors of xenophobia and using accurate demographic, sociological and historical data to counter their argumentation, underscores the tenor of public debate at the time, where sovereignty and ‘governance’, demography and economics, social sciences and history were used by the Ivorian political elites as weapons in a power struggle. For our argument, it is important to highlight how the abstract concept of responsibility in reproduction defined at the Cairo Conference – centred on the individual rights and on processes of moral subjectivation as constituents of government – slipped concretely into a communitarian,

Reproduction, Responsibility and Citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire


culturally engendered culpability. This was congruent with Ivorian historicity, that is, to the development scheme around which the country had been built in colonial times and its continuation – in a paternalistic idiom – by then President Houphouet-Boigny after independence. In that scheme, population management had been functional for the building of a ‘planter State’ (‘État planteur’, Chauveau and Dozon, 1985). But on a different, epistemic level, this can be seen as the upshot of an older, demographic (and implicitly Malthusian) scheme opposing ‘natural‘ (i.e. ‘traditional’, pre-modern and individually irresponsible) fertility, to a ‘controlled’ (i.e. modern, responsible and rational) fertility; as the avatar of a teleological, evolutionistic scheme, ready to upsurge when an abstract hegemonic, modernizing governmentality is confronted with social practices showing different historical and cultural provenance.

Conclusion In this chapter, we have offered a brief reconstruction of the emergence of ‘reproductive health’ policies In Côte d’Ivoire. We have framed it within the ‘neoliberal governmentality turn’ of the 1990s, showing how this introduced new concepts and values concerning the moral responsibility of the individual in the domain of procreation and sexuality. We have described how this form of responsibility, primarily connected to the family’s wellbeing, puts the reproductive practices of every individual in a moral relation with the prosperity and the health of the community, and, via the latter, of the nation. In procreative matters, the self-government of the subject appears thus to be strictly linked with the good governance of the collective. We have subsequently shown how in Côte d’Ivoire the global logics of reproductive health were transformed according to local political culture. In the Ivorian elaboration of population policies, a communitarian subject was substituted for the individual, liberal, subject invoked by the reproductive health discourse. The language of rights was succeeded by the idiom of discipline, and moral subjectivation by a moral coercion shaping the responsibility of the good citizen. We have brought to light how this transformation participated in the construction of a stigmatizing public discourse that changed responsibility into culpability and transferred it from the individual to the community. An Other-of-modernity was thus produced as an irresponsible, traditionalist, non-governable ‘stranger’ who was endangering the future of the nation: a primitive, ‘natural’ Other that had already been present in classical demographic theories of fertility.


Giulia Almagioni and Armando Cutolo

Giulia Almagioni (Ph.D. University of Siena), is an anthropologist working as a consultant in social projects supporting refugees and asylum seekers who experience sufferance in mental health, maternity and parenthood. She is part of a European Union program (FAMI-SPRINT) on immigrant’s mental health, where she collaborates with psychologists and psychiatrists. In Côte d’Ivoire, she has carried out research on marriage, sexuality and reproduction in the Anno region, and on reproductive health policies in Abidjan. Armando Cutolo (Ph.D. University of Siena), is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Siena, Department of Social, Political and Cognitive Sciences. He is currently carrying out research on the new biometric systems of identification and registration of citizens in Côte d’Ivoire, in the frame of the French ANR-PIAF research programme on The Social Life of Identity Papers in Africa. His recent publications have focused on the Ivorian nationalist movement of the jeunes patriotes and their network of street parliaments in Abidjan, analysing the performative role of oratory in processes of moral and political subjectivation.

Notes Although this chapter results from a single, shared project, the second and the fifth sections have been written by Armando Cutolo, while the third and the fourth were written by Giulia Almagioni. The Introduction and the Conclusion (i.e. the first and the last sections) were both jointly written.  1. ‘(a) The World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace, held in Nairobi in 1985; 5 (b) The World Summit for Children, held in New York in 1990; 6 (c) The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992; 7 (d) The International Conference on Nutrition, held in Rome in 1992; 8 (e) The World Conference on Human Rights, held in Vienna in 1993; 9 (f) The International Year of the World’s Indigenous People, 1993; 10 which would lead to the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People; 11 (g) The Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, held in Barbados in 1994; 12 (h) The International Year of the Family, 1994.’  2. ‘Immigration in Côte d’Ivoire: Tolerable Limit Widely Breached’.

Reproduction, Responsibility and Citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire


References Abélès, M., and C. Collard (eds). 1985. Age, pouvoir et société en Afrique noire. Paris: Karthala. Akindés, F. 2000. ‘Inégalités sociales et régulation politique en Côte d’Ivoire’, Politique Africaine (78): 126–141. Almagioni, G. 2002. ‘Demografia e potere: Il discorso sulla riproduzione in Costa d’Avorio.’ PhD dissertation, University of Siena. Argenti, N. 2007. The Intestines of the State: Youth, Violence and Belated Histories in the Cameroon Grassfields. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Attias-Donfut, C., and L. Rosenmayr (eds). 1994. Vieillir en Afrique. Paris: PUF. Bayart, J.-F. 2004. Le gouvernament du monde. Paris: Fayard. Bledsoe, C.H. 1980.  Women and Marriage in Kpelle Society. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Bongaarts, J. 1978. ‘A Framework for Analyzing the Proximate Determinants of Fertility’, Population and Development Review 4 (1): 105–132. Brou, K., and Y. Charbit. 1994. ‘La politique migratoire de la Côte d’Ivoire’, Revue européenne des migrations internationales 10 (3): 33–59. Caldwell J. 1982. Theory of Fertility Decline. London, New York: Academic Press. Caldwell, J., P. Caldwell and B. Caldwell. 1987. ‘Anthropology and Demography: The Mutual Reinforcement of Speculation and Research’, Current Anthropology 28(1): 25–43. Caldwell, J., and P. Caldwell. 1991. ‘Population Growth, Physical Resources and Human Resources in Sub-Saharan Africa’, The Economics of Transational Commons Conference, Certosa di Pontignano (Siena): University of Siena – Wider – IEA. Caldwell, J., I.O. Orubuloye and P. Caldwell. 1992. ‘Fertility Decline in Africa: A New Type of Transition?’, Population and Development Review 18(2): 211–242. Carter, A. 1995. ‘Agency and Fertility: For an Ethnography of Practice’, in S. Greenhalgh (ed.), Situating Fertility: Anthropological and demographic inquiry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 55–85. Chakrabarty, D. 2000. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chauveau, J.-P., and J.-P. Dozon. 1985. ‘Colonisation, économie de plantation et société civile en Côte d’Ivoire’, Cahiers ORSTOM, série Sciences Humaines 21(1): 63–80.  . 1987. ‘Au coeur des ethnies ivoiriennes... l’État’, in E. Terray (ed.), L’État contemporain en Afrique. Paris: L’Harmattan, pp. 221–296. Chauveau, J.-P. 2000. ‘Question foncière et construction nationale en Côte d’Ivoire’, Politique africaine 78: 94–125. Chauveau, J.-P., and P. Richards. 2008. ‘West African Insurgencies in Agrarian Perspective: Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone Compared’, Journal of Agrarian Change 8(4) (October 2008): 515–552. Comité de suivi de la Table ronde des Bailleurs de fonds pour le financement du Plan National de Développement Sanitaire. 1996. Plan National de Développement Sanitaire 1996-2005. République de Côte d’Ivoire.


Giulia Almagioni and Armando Cutolo

Cutolo, A. 2007. ‘Debiti di donne: Scambio, dono e fecondità nell’Anno’, in P.G. Solinas, La vita in prestito: Debito, lavoro, dipendenza. Lecce: Argo, pp. 195–226.  . 2008. ‘Populations, citoyennetés et territoires. Autochtonie et gouvernementalité en Afrique’, Politique Africaine 112: 5–17.  . 2010. ‘Modernity, Autochthony and the Ivorian Nation: The End of a Century in Côte d’Ivoire’, Africa 80(4): 527–552. Démbelé, O. 2002.  ‘La construction économique et politique de la catégorie “étranger” en Côte d’Ivoire’, in M. Le Pape and C. Vidal (eds), Côte d’Ivoire: L’année terrible, 1999–2000. Paris: Karthala, pp. 123–172. Demeny, P. 1994. Population et développement. London–New York: IUSSP-Springer. Dozon, J.-P. 2000.  ‘La Côte d’Ivoire entre démocratie, nationalisme et ethnonationalisme’, Politique Africaine 78: 45–62. Etienne, P. 1975. ‘Les Interdictions de mariage chez les Baoulé’, L’Homme 15(3–4): 5–29. Falquet, J. 2003. ‘L’ONU, alliée des femmes?’, Multitudes 11: 179–191. Ferguson, J. 2006. Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Fortes, M. 1954. ‘A Demographic Field Study in Ashanty’, in F. Lorimer et al., Culture and Human Fertility. Paris: UNESCO, pp. 253–340. Foucault, M. 1976. La volonté de savoir. Paris: Gallimard.  . 1994. Dits et écrits III 1976–1979. Paris: Gallimard.  . 2004. Securité, territoire, population: Cours au Collège de France 1977–1978. Paris: Seuil/Gallimard. Gendreau, F., and P. Bimard. 1991. ‘Les défis démographiques: des discours alarmistes aux politiques incertaines’, Politique Africaine 44: 5–14. Ginsburg, F., and R. Rapp (eds). 1995. Conceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics of Reproduction. Berkley: University of California Press. Greenhalgh, S. (ed.). 1995. Situating Fertility: Anthropological and Demographic inquiry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Grimes, S. 1994. ‘The Ideology of Population Control in the UN Draft Plan for Cairo’, Population Research and Policy Revue 13(3): 209–224. Handwerker, P. 1986a. ‘Culture and Reproduction: Exploring Micro/Macro Linkage’, in P. Handwerker (ed.), Culture and Reproduction: An Anthropological Critique of Demographic Transition Theory. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 1–28.  . 1986b. ‘“Natural Fertility” as a Balance of Choice and Behavioural Effect: Policy Implications for Liberian Farm Households’, in P. Handwerker (ed.), Culture and Reproduction: An Anthropological Critique of Demographic Transition Theory. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 90–111. Hartmann, B. 1995. Reproductive Rights and Wrongs: The Global Politics of Population Control. Cambridge: South End Press. Henry, L. 1952. ‘Fécondité des marriages: Nouvelle méthode de mesure’, Population, 7(4): 697–700.  . 1961. ‘Some Data on Natural Fertility’, Eugenics Quarterly 8: 81–91.  . 1977. ‘Concepts actuels et resultats empiriques sur la fécondité naturelle’, in H. Leridon and J. Menken (eds), Natural Fertility/Fecondité Naturelle. Liège: Ordina Editeur, pp. 15–28.

Reproduction, Responsibility and Citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire


Hugon, P. 2003. ‘La Côte d’Ivoire: plusieurs lecture pour une crise annoncée’, Afrique Contemporaine 206: 105–128. Iliffe, J. 1995. Africans: The History of a Continent. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Institut National de la Statistique – Demographic and Health Surveys Macro International Inc. 1994. Enquête Démographique et de Santé, Côte dIvoire. Abidjan– Calverton, Mariland. Institut National de la Statistique – ORC Macro. 1998. Enquête Démographique et de Santé, Côte dIvoire, 1998–1999. Abidjan–Calverton, Mariland. Kertzer, D., and T. Fricke (eds). 1997. Anthropological Demography: Towards a New Synthesis. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Kopytoff, I. 1987. ‘The Internal African Frontier: The Making of African Political Culture’, in I. Kopytoff (ed.), The African Frontier: The Reproduction of Traditional African Societies. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, pp. 3–84. Livi Bacci, M. 1995. ‘Transazione e transazioni’, Società Italiana di Statistica Conference: Continuità e discontinuità nei processi demografici, 20–21 aprile 1995. Soveria Mannelli: Università della Calabria- Rubettino Editore, pp. 25–44. Losch, B. 2000. ‘La Côte d’Ivoire, en tete d’une nouveau projet national’, Politique Africaine 78: 5–25. Lorimer, F. 1954. ‘General Theory’, in F. Lorimer et al., Culture and Human Fertility, Paris: UNESCO, pp. 13–251. McIntosh, C.A., and J.L. Finkle. 1995. ‘The Cairo Conference on Population and Development: A New Paradigm?’,  Population and Development Review 21(2): 223–260. Marie, A. 2002. ‘Un’anthropo-logique communautaire à l’épreuve de la mondialisation: De la relation de dette à la lutte sociale (l’exemple ivoirien)’, Cahiers d’études africaines: 207–55. Meillassoux, C. 1975. Femmes, greniers et capitaux. Paris: Editions Maspero.  . 2007. ‘A chi dobbiamo la vita?’, in P.G. Solinas (ed.), La vita in prestito. Debito, lavoro, dipendenza. Lecce: Argo, pp. 31–44. Mertens, W. 1994. The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, ICPD. London–New York: IUSSP-Springer. Ministère de la Santé Publique, Comité de suivi sur la valorisation des ressources humaines. 1991. Déclaration de Politique de Développement des Ressources Humaines. République de Côte d’Ivoire. Ministère délégué auprès du Premier Ministre chargé du Plan et du Développement industriel. 1997. Déclaration National de Politique de Population. République de Côte d›Ivoire. Ministère de la Santé Publique. 1998. Déclaration de politique nationale de la Santé de la Reproduction. République de Côte d’Ivoire. Ministère de la Santé Publique, Direction Exécutive du Programme National de la Santé de la Reproduction/Planification Familiale. 1998. Politique et Standards des Services de la Santé de la Reproduction et Planification Familiale. République de Côte d’Ivoire.


Giulia Almagioni and Armando Cutolo

 . 1999. Stratégie Nationale de Communication pour le Changement de Comportement en Santé de la Reproduction/Planification Familiale 1999–2003. République de Côte d’Ivoire. Moore, H.L. 1988. Feminism and Anthropology. Cambridge: Polity Press. Richards, A.I., and P. Reining. 1954. ‘Report on Fertility Surveys in Buganda and Buhaya, 1952’, in F. Lorimer et al., Culture and Human Fertility. Paris: UNESCO, pp. 351–403. Rose, N. 1990. Governing the Soul: The Shaping of the Private Self. London: Routledge.  . 1998. Inventing Ourselves. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  . 1999. Power of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Roubaud, F. 2003.  ‘La crise vue par le bas à Abidjan: ethnicité, gouvernance et démocratie’, Afrique Contemporaine 206: 57–86. Scott, J. 1998. Seeing Like a State. New Haven: Yale University Press. Serhan, N. 2002. ‘La Côte d’Ivoire et ses étrangers: un vent de divorce soufflerait-il entre eux?’, in M. Le Pape and Vidal C. (eds), Côte d’Ivoire. L’Année terrible, 1999–2000. Parigi: Karthala, pp. 173–190. Shore, C., and S. Wright. 1997. ‘Policy: A New Field of Anthropology’, in C. Shore and S. Wright (eds), Anthropology of Policy. London: Routledge, pp. 3–39. Solinas, P.G. 1992. Popolazioni e sistemi sociali: linee di ricerca in etnodemografia. Roma: La Nuova Italia Scientifica.  . 2007. ‘Life on loan, la vita in prestito: Termini, metafore e legami’, in P.G. Solinas (ed.), La vita in prestito. Debito, lavoro, dipendenza. Lecce: Argo, pp. 11–30. Tabet, P. 1985. ‘Fertilité naturelle, reproduction forceé’, in N.-C. Mathieu (ed.), L’arraisonnement des femmes. Paris: Editions de l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, pp. 61–146. Tapinos, G.P., P. Hugon and P. Vimard (eds). 2002. La Cote d’Ivoire à l’aube du XXIeme siècle: Défis démographiques et développement durable. Paris: Karthala. Tapinos, G.P. 2002. ‘La population étrangère’, in G.P. Tapinos, P. Hugon and P. Vimard (eds), La Cote d’Ivoire à l’aube du XXIeme siècle: Défis démographiques et développement durable. Paris: Karthala, pp.387–408. Terray, E. 1975. ‘Classes and Class Consciousness in the Abron kingdom of Gyaman’, in M. Bloch (ed.), Marxist Analysis and Social Anthropology. London: Tavistock, pp. 85–136. United Nation Population Fund. 2014 [1994]. Program of Action Adopted at the International Conference of Population and Development, Cairo, 5–13 September 1994, 20th Annversary Edition. New York. Yapi-Diahou, A. 2000. Barraques et pouvoirs. Paris: L’Harmattan.

Chapter 5

Human Care or Human Capital?

Corporate Responsibility and HIV Management at South Africa’s Mines Dinah Rajak



t the Fourteenth International AIDS Conference in Barcelona in July 2002 protestors targeted two transnational corporations in particular, marching to the chant: Coke and Anglo you can’t hide, We charge you with genocide.

A month later, on 6 August 2002, the mining multinational Anglo American became the first major company to offer antiretroviral therapy (ART), ‘free of charge’ to their South African workforce of over 80,000 employees. It is over a decade since South Africa’s leading mining companies first rolled out an HIV treatment and well-being programme for its employees. With sero-prevalence at South Africa’s mines estimated at over 20 per cent, HIV management has become the object of the most intensive exercise of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Through the lens of HIV management, I consider what happens when responsibility for fundamental human care becomes enmeshed within the logics of corporate managerialism and shareholder value. Relations between employer and employee are being transformed as a result of corporate healthcare programmes, creating connections between the personal realm of sexual conduct and family life, and the political economy of global corporate capitalism. Recently, anthropologists have become


Dinah Rajak

increasingly interested in neoliberal regimes of care and pharmaceutical governance (see for example Ecks 2007; Petryna et al 2006). However, research has focused on the subjects of such regimes and the new kinds of ‘therapeutic citizenship’ they create (Biehl 2007: 73), neglecting the actual apparatus of corporate care as key components of welfare on which this chapter concentrates. Here, I chronicle Anglo American’s HIV intervention. I track the dispensation of corporate care from the boardrooms of its London and Johannesburg command centres to the platinum mines and labour hostels of South Africa’s North West Province. In 2003 Anglo Platinum established its HIV prevention and wellness programme under the banner ‘Circle of Hope’, describing its strategic approach as one underpinned by a combination of ‘economic impact containment’ and ‘compassion’ (Anglo Platinum 2003a). In South Africa, the state rollout of ART was long in coming, blocked by denialism at the highest levels of government at a time when ART was most needed. When a national ART initiative was finally announced in 2002, it was slow and uneven (Thornton 2008). Over a decade later, while South Africa now hosts the largest ART rollout in the world it remains patchy, with striking disparities in service provision across the nation’s provinces while rural areas remain drastically underserved. As a result, only around half of those who need antiretrovirals are thought to be currently getting them (UNAIDS 2012). Within the mining industry, where HIV prevalence is higher than the national average, pressure to respond to the HIV crisis has been further compounded by debates surrounding the migratory labour system. As Campbell’s study makes clear, ‘the life situation of migrant workers… renders them particularly vulnerable to HIV’ (1997: 273). Thus, the epidemiology of the pandemic has been determined, in part, by the political economy of migrancy upon which the mining industry continues to depend (Williams et al 2002). The elevation of Anglo American and its cohort of mining multinationals should be viewed within a broader market-based paradigm of development which promises to harness the reach and resources of big business in the service of global health crises and to supersede the economic, political or bureaucratic impotence of state healthcare systems (Rajak 2011). Under the banner of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), this movement has gained increasing currency within the development arena. The discourse of CSR asserts an unassailable rationale for intervention: HIV poses an urgent threat to human capital for labour-intensive businesses operating in southern Africa. Underlying this rationale is the promise of a confluence of efficient businesses and caring corporations which combines moral imperatives with, as Mauss put it, ‘the cold reasoning of the business, banker or capitalist’ (Mauss 1967: 73).

Corporate Responsibility and HIV Management in South Africa


Corporate systems of HIV management thus aim (or claim) to offer both a new ethic of care while also mitigating the economic impact of the epidemic on the financial bottom-line of the company. In this particular dispensation of corporate welfare, we find the discourse of shareholder value fused with moralities of social responsibility. Corporate reporting on HIV has become part of complex actuarial calculations measuring the costs of HIV treatment against the losses incurred through sickness, injury and fatality, for each ounce of platinum produced. Such actuarial calculations attempt to take uncertainties (or in corporate speak, ‘externalities’) at the mines – underground injuries, absenteeism due to illness, loss of ‘human capital’ – and turn them into calculable certainties for investors in London. Fearnley, for example, estimated that HIV treatment would reduce the value of production at Anglo Platinum by 10 per cent, whereas ‘doing nothing’ would reduce the value of production by approximately 23 per cent (Fearnley 2005: 146). Thus the volatile and uncertain capital markets are intimately connected to corporate regimes of welfare, which attempt to manage a very different set of uncertainties at the mines. As such, calculations attempt to make worker welfare amenable to the kind of predictive logics that turn uncertainties into certain outcomes in order to insulate the company from the fickle fears of investors. This is part of a much older programme of scenario forecasting within Anglo American dating back to the latter years of apartheid when the company controlled around 50 per cent of the South African economy (Lester et al 2000: 188). Surveying the post-apartheid future the company’s team of horizon scanners and scenario planners attempted to provide a set of principles, a playbook as it were, for predicting and controlling the uncertain future (and sustaining their influence and wealth within it). According to these principles, business, indeed all of life, is best strategized as a game – much like the classic model of market rationality – complete with rules, players, winners and losers. Today, the biggest ‘game’ being played in South Africa, according to the company’s chief forecaster, is HIV: ‘a catastrophic game’, which, as he put it, combines ‘human tragedy with cold economics’. In 2004 when I started my research on the platinum belt, mining companies were riding high on soaring global metals prices. The Financial Times reported: ‘mining companies are generating so much cash at the moment due to high metals prices that it sometimes appears hard for them to know how to spend it’ (Bream 2006, emphasis added). At the centre of the platinum boom, was Rustenburg, the source of around half of the world’s platinum. At the same time, the CSR movement was gaining ground daily, building momentum globally, and finding particular currency in South Africa as it incorporated the language of Black Economic


Dinah Rajak

Empowerment (BEE) promising emancipation and social improvement through business, big and small. In South Africa, multinational corporations, with the mining industry at their helm, were lining up (or competing) to commit their resources, their know-how and their creative energies to social goods, from community education and empowerment initiatives, to HIV care and treatment programmes. As it turns out, CSR offered much more to companies than something to spend their own money on. It proved equally lucrative for them – enabling mining companies to leverage international donor funds, demonstrating the extent to which CSR in general was emerging as the new orthodoxy of development. In particular, the South African mining industry was being embraced as a partner in building the new South Africa. In 2007 the International Finance Corporation gave Lonmin (owners of the Marikana mine) $5.9 million in technical assistance to upgrade worker housing and promote BEE, among other things (Lichtenstein 2012). Meanwhile in 2013, Anglo Zimele, Anglo American’s empowerment arm which enables them to comply with BEE legislation, received funding from the Development Bank of South Africa, i.e. the state development bank, in order to support BEE start-ups (empowerment work which is construed as a demonstration of the corporate effort to ‘give back’ to the nation). That same year, the UN Global Fund apportioned 80 per cent of its country budget to fight malaria in Ghana, to Anglo Gold Ashanti (ICMM press release 20141), effectively channelling the bulk of Global Fund programming in the country to mine-affected areas while leaving a dearth elsewhere. Each of these cases represents the investment of public or donor funds and technical assistance to cover core operational costs such as worker health and housing which are nonetheless categorized as ‘externalities’ in corporate speak. CSR, I argue, serves as a mechanism by which companies offload the financial burdens of their social obligations rather than internalizing them. This foreshadows a critical tension between responsibility and externalization that runs through this chapter. Four years on from the boom time of investment in minerals and social responsibility, and the picture looked very differently. Anglo American announced a 69 per cent decline in profits to $1bn for the first half of the year (Smith 2009). By the end of the year 11 per cent of its global workforce was laid off in order to make up the $450 million in costs (Sparshott 2009). A large proportion of the 19,000 retrenched Anglo employees were at Anglo Platinum which, according to trade unions, was responsible for a fifth of all recession-linked formal sector job losses in South Africa (Smith 2009). This amounts to ten thousand or so former employees at the platinum mines who were no longer eligible for company-sponsored

Corporate Responsibility and HIV Management in South Africa


ART or other benefits offered as part of the company’s CSR to its workforce. In such a context of mass joblessness, ‘those with jobs’, as Gumede puts it, ‘cling on to them, for fear they may never get one again’ (Gumede 2012). Yet they are all the more vulnerable to the dictates of a volatile global market and the shibboleth of shareholder value invoked by corporate management as a rejoinder to their struggle for better conditions and a fairer wage. Cast as a facet of CSR, worker welfare is thus linked to shareholder value, contingent on the extreme vacillations in price to which the platinum market is subject (from $2,000 an ounce in 2006 to $800 an ounce in 2008). This chapter is divided into four sections which explore both the kinds of control that are enabled through the corporate dispensation of responsibility over the health of workers; the spatial and temporal limits to that exercise of responsibility; and the inequalities that these acts of delimitation and externalisation produce. In the first section I consider how worker welfare becomes a basis for governance; not the self-governance of corporations as is commonly expected, but governance of the workforce. As welfare is conflated with the maintenance of human capital, care becomes a conduit for corporate control giving new force to old paternalistic and repressive regimes of labour management which the advent of contemporary CSR had supposedly consigned to the past (see Rubbers and Jedlowski, this volume). From sport and leisure, to health and hygiene, and from safe sex to ‘feeding’ science, HIV management is embedded within daily regimes that attempt to regulate the working and domestic lives of employees. The second section moves on to consider the geographic demarcation of corporate responsibility. I examine how the new technologies of HIV management reinscribe boundaries demarcating the company’s zone of responsibility, erecting a metaphysical ‘cordon-sanitaire’ between the workplace and, what is described in corporate jargon as, ‘the world beyond our perimeter fence’ (Anglo American 2005: 16). Through the daily routines of HIV management, the company attempts to ‘make legible its subjects’ (Scott 1998: 2) and to protect the social fabric of its workforce – its human capital – from the physical infection, ‘moral contagion’ and threat to productivity, brought on by ‘outsiders’. Section three explores how this spatialization of CSR creates liminal spaces between the company and what the WHO has termed ‘peri-mining communities’. As increasing numbers of mineworkers opt to live outside the hostels – mostly in the informal settlements which sit cheek-by-jowl with the mining compounds – the distinction between workplace and society becomes increasingly anachronistic. Yet, I argue, it is the very permeability of the physical borders (across which movement was once


Dinah Rajak

more rigidly controlled) that has placed increasing importance on symbolic ‘moral’ borders re-constructed, rather than dissolved, through the authoritarian benevolence of corporate care. Through the re-inscription of these borders the tension between welfare and profit emerges clearly. As the final section of this chapter shows, the circumscription of CSR not only imposes spatial boundaries, but it also establishes sharp temporal limits to welfare provision. Measured against metrics of productivity, the corporate care programme has become increasingly efficient at managing and maintaining the well-being of mineworkers while they remain employed by the company. However, there are no reliable statistics accounting for the health and well-being of workers once they leave the company (whether due to sickness, sacking, or shaft closure). And while the state delivery of ART remains patchy and slow, especially in the traditional ‘labour-sending’ areas to which many mineworkers return after their contracts are terminated, doctors at the mines remain pessimistic about whether a continuum of care across the mine’s perimeter is possible, let alone likely. The result is the emergence of a vanguard or island of ART recipients, employees who depend on the mine not only for their livelihoods, but also for their survival. They are thus divided from society outside the workplace and from their own dependents. Their liminality comes to embody the disjuncture between corporate responsibility and state welfare which translates into an awkward topography of authority and responsibility.

The Bottom Line of Responsibility: Human Care or Human Capital? In Anglo’s 1987 forecasting, HIV had been identified as a ‘wild card’ in the broader game of socio-economic transition (Sunter 1987). This prediction was underwritten by a survey of 60,000 mineworkers conducted by the Chamber of Mines between 1986–7 showing 0.3 per cent HIV prevalence among South African miners. The highest prevalence (around 4%) was among Malawian mineworkers (Randera 2003). In response, the mining industry introduced pre-emptive testing for all foreign mineworkers: ‘no known carriers will be engaged [and] all recruits from high risk areas will be tested at source’ (Brink and Clausen 1987: 15, emphasis added). Such a response effectively externalized HIV as an extraneous risk encroaching on the borders of the workplace. Mining companies attempted to insulate themselves against this ‘threat’ to productivity and profit by cutting off the supply of labour, and supposedly the infection, ‘at source’.

Corporate Responsibility and HIV Management in South Africa


The genealogy of this strategy can be traced back over half a century to apartheid discourse from the 1940s, perpetuated by the mine medical establishment and the government, who located the source of tuberculosis epidemics at the mines in the physical and moral failure of mineworkers to make the transition from rural life in the homelands to industrial civilization at the mines or, as Packard puts it, from ‘healthy reserve’ to ‘dressed native’ (Packard 1989: 686). Such pseudo-scientific claims provided support for the policy of ‘separate development’ between the areas designated ‘native homelands’ or ‘bantustans’ by the apartheid government and the state. The tenure of black mineworkers within the boundaries of the workplace was determined by their objectification as a productive resource. Mamdani writes: ‘this meant, on the one hand the forced removal of those marked unproductive so they may be pushed out of white areas back into native homelands and, on the other, the forced straddling of those deemed productive between workplace and homeland through an ongoing cycle of annual migrations’ (Mamdani 1996: 7). The realities of impoverishment in the homelands, of households fragmented through migrant labour, and of the poor conditions of work and life at the mines, were glossed into an idealized myth of the ‘healthy reserve’, to which mineworkers were expected to return when their contracts ended (Packard 1989: 11). Such narratives externalized responsibility for both the cause and cost of occupational ill-health and welfare from employer to employee. The industry’s initial response after the 1986 HIV survey followed this same logic. Just as mine medical officers in the 1940s had pursued a policy of swift ‘repatriation’ of TB infected mineworkers once they became ‘unable to function’ (Packard 1989: 692), so in 1987, the Chamber of Mines instituted a similar policy for HIV positive miners. An article appeared in the Journal of the Mine Medical Officers’ Association qualifying the industry’s position: despite pre-emptive testing (which was later outlawed), mineworkers would not be ‘repatriated’ if they were well enough to work, but would face ‘repatriation’ when they became too sick to do so (Brink and Clausen 1987). In 2002 when the company launched its wellness programme, the Chairman explained, ‘this is … not just a humanitarian mission; it is good business practice’ (Interview with Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Anglo American London, 6 December 2005). The logic of enlightened selfinterest (as CSR is often dubbed) focuses on countering loss to profit wrought by HIV , costed in terms of increased absenteeism, accidents due to impaired physical or cognitive function and loss of manpower in order to provide ‘economic risk assessment model(s)’ for the investment


Dinah Rajak

in ART. The company’s 2008 annual Report to Society costs its care programme as follows: Total monthly savings at an individual level were … calculated to be $219 … the cost of providing treatment was $126, giving a net saving of $93 per month at an individual level … The overall impact of HIV /AIDS on the Group … was calculated at 3.4% of payroll. (Anglo American 2008: 34)

These actuarial logics sustain a broader narrative of ‘shareholder value’ that apparently provides proof of a bottom line to corporate humanitarianism. From this conflation of human care with human capital an unsettling combination of health-speak and accountancy-speak emerges which reduces the human ‘cost’ of HIV to a ratio of payroll (in this case 3.4 per cent). An Anglo executive explained: ‘look the bottom line is… if you spend thousands of dollars training someone to drive a truck and they then die of AIDS, you have to train someone else’ (Interview with Anglo American executive, London 9 August 2004). By rendering social responsibility as a facet of shareholder value, HIV management can be distilled into productive outputs to provide apparently irrefutable evidence of efficiency. This was borne out in my discussion with Dr Matthew Waywell, a senior Anglo executive, during which he presented the cases of the Goedehoop colliery and the Rustenburg platinum mines, and the respective success and failure of the HIV intervention at each: The manager at Goedehoop moved there about 18 months ago and said, ‘how’s the AIDS programme going?’ They said, ‘5% have been tested’. He said, ‘this is pathetic’… They went from 5% to 92% uptake of VCT in 2004. They have a workforce of 1177. 90% of these were tested, that’s 1059 employees and 22 others. Of these 191 are HIV positive (that’s 18%). Of the 191,176 have enrolled in the wellness programme and the other 15 are thinking about it. Of those, 65 are on ART, and of those 63 are at work. That was 2004, now it’s 2005 and he’s reset the clock: ‘now we start again with VCT’. Last time I saw him he said, ‘Doc, we’re up to 100% VCT uptake’… Anglo Coal puts VCT targets into managers’ performance ratings. They measure their VCT uptake day by day. I can call him – I’ll call him now and say ‘what is your VCT uptake for today?’ (Interview with Dr Matthew Waywell.2 (Anglo American Johannesburg, 2 June 2005)

Waywell then turned to Rustenburg: What you see there is a lack of commitment, lack of leadership… At Anglo Platinum they claim that HIV is 25% in their report, it should be 35%. Why don’t they know? Those section managers in Anglo Platinum need to be held accountable. Someone should put a rocket up their arse.

Corporate Responsibility and HIV Management in South Africa


Waywell’s recitation of the numbers tripped off his tongue, wellrehearsed after frequent interviews and public engagements. The same numbers were recited to me in interviews with executives in London and were presented at CSR conventions, compelling in their ability to demonstrate measurable success of the company’s HIV interventions in terms of a quantifiable output. Such metrics of efficiency (the numbers of workers in VCT, on ART, and back at work) impose a profit and loss logic which did not go uncontested within the company. For those such as Bridget Kessler and Elias Makoe, who worked on the ‘social’ as opposed to the ‘medical’ side of HIV planning within Anglo subsidiaries, the preoccupation with ‘numbers’, as Kessler put it, was indicative both of the technocratic and production-focused culture of mining companies, and the dominance of a traditionally biomedical approach to worker health: The whole HIV issue has been melted down to two figures – how many workers have had VCT and how many are on ART. We have meetings with our counterparts in London, and that’s what we discuss – the numbers! How many people are infected, how many are in VCT, how many are on ART. (Interview with Bridget Kessler, HIV coordinator, Anglo Platinum Johannesburg, 1 May 2005)

The friction surrounding this preoccupation with figures for VCT and ART was equally revealing of a tension between the narrow focus on protecting the company’s human capital and the broader moral mission of ‘taking a stand on HIV’, as Anglo executives commonly put it. ‘Does anyone care about anything other than that?’ Kessler asked, ‘and when I say “anyone”, I mean the decision makers’. Indeed, this demand for empirical proof of the efficiency of the HIV intervention is operationalized in much the same way as production targets, though without the same incentives and penalties if an operational manager fails to meet a target: It’s the process of internal competition – beating up the laggards. If, as a business unit, you read in the annual report that 90% of the company is successful at this – it could be production, it could be getting workers into VCT – and you’re in the 10 per cent… you feel the peer pressure… People in business are essentially competitive – nobody wants to be the dragging tail. (Interview with Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Chairman, Anglo American, London 6 December 2005)

As Moody-Stuart’s statement indicates, the elevation of multinationals in the fight against HIV (celebrated by bodies such as the UN and WHO) goes beyond a question of delivery. As he underlines, it is the extension of market logic itself into the realm of worker healthcare (and public health more broadly) that is fast becoming an orthodoxy.


Dinah Rajak

Yet the notion of ‘enlightened self-interest’ – which instrumentalizes CSR as a mechanism to safeguard human capital – recalls a much older logic. As Marks reminds us, ‘concern for the lives and limbs of … workers’ is far from new’ (Marks 2006: 570). Health management in the workplace traditionally combined a paternalistic ethos with a Taylorist order which attempted to maintain living labour capacity by eliminating threats to low output (Crisp 1983: 104). This logic found concrete expression in the establishment of the Ernest Oppenheimer hospital at the Welkom goldmines in the 1950s; a model of both modern medicine and progressive mine management, according to its first director, Dr J.H.G. Van Blommestein: This was an era in which there still survived an idée fixe … that workers were just hands… that expenditure not directly relevant to profit must be kept at a minimum. However, the winds of change blew … directors and managers began to realize that every day lost by a sick or injured man adds to the cost of production. (Van Blommestein 1971: 100)

Over three decades later Dr McAllister, at the Anglo Platinum hospital in Rustenburg, described a similar shift from labour battery to responsible corporation with the advent of the HIV Wellness programme: Occupational health used to be just about being ‘fit for work’ – a rubber stamp… If someone couldn’t work, you got rid of them and got another… fatalities were budgeted for. (Interview with Dr McAllister, Anglo Platinum Rustenburg Hospital 25 April 2005)

According to McAllister the new socially responsible company no longer ‘budgets for fatalities’. Yet, as discussed above, the contemporary discourse of enlightened self-interest relies on just such a set of, albeit more sophisticated and compassionate, actuarial calculations now cast in the language of shareholder value. Welfare framed within the logic of corporate responsibility is thus articulated as managing and minimizing risks to shareholders. With a simplicity that seemed both irrefutable and reminiscent of van Blommestein, the chairman of Anglo American affirmed the synergy of responsibility and productivity in his address to the Leadership Conference on Global Corporate Citizenship in New York, January 29, 2009: ‘healthy workers are more productive’. By presenting risk and responsibility as two sides of the same coin, the dominant corporate discourse serves to externalize HIV as a social risk or threat to profit from which business must insulate itself. Executives stressed that while the company offered a solution to the crisis in the areas where they operate, the source of the problem lay outside the company’s domain of the company, extraneous to the business of mining.

Corporate Responsibility and HIV Management in South Africa


The chairman explained: ‘there are also things in the country happening which have an impact on the operations, such as… crime, HIV… conflict, things which are not caused by the company but impinge on it… This is not our fault, but we’re getting zapped by it’ (Interview with Anglo American Chairman, London 6 December 2005, emphasis added). As I explore in the following section, this tension between externalization and responsibility plays out in the routines of care and the demarcation of moral space around the mines, delimiting the boundaries of corporate responsibility to their zone of interest: the workplace and the workforce.

The Power of Responsibility: Control through Care As Steyn, hostel coordinator at Anglo Platinum’s Rustenburg Section, was to insist, the hostels are much changed from those once described by Wilson as ‘labour batteries’ (Wilson 1972): ‘now the company cares about their (miners’) health… we are more socially responsible’ (Interview with Hostel Coordinator, Rustenburg 25 May 2005). Yet, despite the directives of the Mining Charter, and pressure from the National Union of Mines (NUM), to ‘upgrade’ the hostels to apartments with single rooms and family units, the accommodation provided by the mine to lower-ranking employees remains one in which a resident is ‘expected to live as a bachelor… until he returns “home” to visit his wife and children’ (Ramphele 1993: 20). From the physical space of the hostels, to the involvement of the company in the personal lives of mineworkers, the hostel is an encompassing institution that circumscribes the interaction between occupants and those outside. The figure of the hostel manager embodies this merging of public and private. Like most of the hostel managers I talked to, Kobus, manager of Hostel A (one of Anglo Platinum’s Rustenburg hostels), spoke about his role in terms of affectionate paternalism – a combination of welfare managerialism and discipline. He described his commitment to ‘protect his men’, and his efforts to ‘educate those who aren’t infected’ and to ‘look after those who are’. He added, ‘we want to make it clear that we will take care of people and they shouldn’t go to the informal settlements where it’s not safe’ (Conversation with Kobus Visser, Rustenburg, 19 May 2005). Kobus underlined the awkward role occupied by hostel managers, often conflicted between their commitment to residents, and their status as agents of the company’s authority over the domestic lives of its employees: ‘if they don’t go to work that’s not for me to interfere… (but) if they’re sick, that’s my concern…you see, I’m working for the company, but what I’m doing here is for the residents’. In this sense, the anachronistic figure


Dinah Rajak

of the hostel manager embodied a paternalism which was reinvigorated by the imperatives of HIV management, yet clashed with the progressive discourse of empowerment and self-mastery in which the intervention is cast in corporate policy. A focal point of the hostel’s welfare regime was food, and the adoption of the ‘Palladium Public Health Module’, a scientific nutrition system targeted at ‘maintaining and extending the wellness of HIV positive employees’ (Anglo Platinum 2003c: 2). Over lunch in the hostel canteen, Kobus explained the care that was taken to ensure a precisely balanced daily meal for mineworkers. In addition to the scientifically-formulated diet, before going on shift each day, residents are given Morvite, a vitamin-supplemented porridge. This concern with the nutritional sustenance of mineworkers – and its relationship to employee performance – was a central topic for the monthly hostel managers’ meetings where discussion focused on what was referred to as ‘correct feeding procedures’. At the May meeting, for example, a manager commented: ‘the other day I was sitting with the unions and they were complaining that the food in the hostels was inadequate for people with HIV… but what about the squatter camps? Are they complaining about the food people eat there?’ Steyn, the coordinator, replied: ‘we can track the food groups and check they’re eating right in the hostels. If they live in the informal settlements we can’t feed them well’. The contrast between the hostels, cast as a healthy environment in which employees are ‘looked after’, and the informal settlements was constantly reinforced. Bruno, another hostel manager, was concerned that residents were likely selling their portions of Morvite: ‘I’ve seen kids running around the squatter camps with… Morvite – where else could they be getting them from? This means that I have men in the hostel… that aren’t getting their supplements and it’s costing us money’. Steyn put up the most recent cost and nutritional analyses of ‘feeding returns’ at each hostel, noting that at Hostel B the proteins were lower: ‘you should be giving them 270 and you’re only giving them 257’. Jurie, Hostel B’s manager, explained that his ‘feeding budget’ was inadequate to meeting the new nutritional requirements of Palladium. Steyn responded that the budgets were calculated precisely according to the number of hostel residents: ‘if some of those living in the informal settlements are coming in with someone else’s card, then you’re over-spending on feeding them instead of getting the nutrition up for the residents’ (Hostel Managers Meeting, Rustenburg Mines, 25 May 2005). The focus on feeding as part of the broader HIV wellness programme encapsulates the synergy of scientific workforce management, enlightened self-interest and the notion of the caring corporation that are wrapped up in CSR. At the same time, the legacy of colonial paternalism

Corporate Responsibility and HIV Management in South Africa


persists within this contemporary approach to HIV management, most explicitly in the linking of feeding regimes to productivity. The discussions surrounding Palladium recall the colonial administration’s preoccupation with nutrition and labour efficiency documented in Fred Cooper’s account of the Mombasa docks in the 1940s: The committee looked at how many pounds of maize meal, salt, beans, and meat the Railway and the Public Works Department gave their workers; the Government Biochemist said this was not enough, and the ‘Biochemist’s Diet’ entered the lexicon of scientific wage determination. (Cooper 1987: 65)

Just as Steyn and his colleagues were concerned that mineworkers who live outside the hostels would not ‘feed themselves properly’, so Cooper notes that the 1942 committee on malnutrition and industry reported that the diets of dock workers ‘do not provide the resistance to disease and the essential alertness which Government should expect from its servants’ (quoted in Cooper 1987: 60). The imperative to encourage mineworkers to stay in the hostels (and out of the informal settlements) similarly provided the rationale for the promotion of sport. And once again, these discussions recall the paternalistic ideals of Victorian industrialists and their prescriptions for the moral upliftment of their workers through physical endeavour, underpinned by a vision of muscular Christianity. At the Rustenburg mines it was the job of the Welfare Officers to promote and organize sports in the hostels, and who, as a consequence, were the subject of debate at the hostel meeting: Bruno: ‘In the new system, the welfare officers have been demoted to level 5 – you can’t do that to these guys… They’re working really hard to look after the men… Otherwise, what are they all going to do? Spend all their time in the squatter camps?’ Seyn: ‘Look, 90% of the soccer is contractors and I don’t see the need for Anglo Platinum to spend the money to do the soccer for contractors that aren’t Anglo Platinum… I want to see figures – how much is he [the welfare officer] costing the hostel?… How many men is he recruiting to sports?’ (Hostel Managers Meeting, Rustenburg Mines, 25 May 2005).

As Steyn’s final comment highlights, there was a sense in which everything targeted at managing HIV was, at least in theory, calculable. Inputs (such as ‘feeding returns’, the number of residents recruited to football, or the number of free condoms given out each month) were weighed against outputs, measured by the HIV prevalence rate, the numbers of employees in VCT and on ART. Circle of Hope guidelines instructed that ‘peer


Dinah Rajak

educators must keep good records… statistics should include the number of people reached, the number of condoms distributed?’ (Anglo Platinum 2003a: 39). Benjamin, an underground mineworker, peer-educator, and Hostel A’s champion long-distance runner, told me: ‘I think the message is getting through, last month we gave out 18,000 condoms… in the hostel in just one month’. These measurements recorded by peer-educators, VCT counsellors and the mine medical staff, and reported to corporate HQ, feed into broader analyses of the cost–benefit of HIV management, demonstrating the capital saved in increased productivity. As Kobus took me around his hostel, he stressed the commitment to cleanliness throughout the institution. In the spotless industrial kitchen, he said: ‘we don’t have… infections here, it’s kept very, very clean… The hostels are not the way they used to be – squalid… bad food. Now it’s all sanitary, it’s clean… it’s a healthy place to live’ (conversation with Kobus Visser, 23 March 2005). The focus on cleanliness seemed symbolic of a broader concern for maintaining the purity of the hostel from pollution of all kinds: from the risk of food contamination and infections, to the threat of contagion from proximity to the informal settlements. The extension of responsibility over the physical and moral vitality of the hostel erected a figurative cordon sanitaire encircling the compound as an independent welfare community. Implicit within this vision is an imperative to protect or defend the company’s workforce from the potential moral and physical corruption that surrounds the territory of the mine. Thus, Benjamin explained to me that the gate security measures were: ‘to keep illegal people out and keep the people inside safe because there’s a lot of risks outside in the squatter camps – there is a lot of HIV’ (Conversation with Benjamin, Peer-Educator, Hostel A, 2 April 2005). Thus, while the extension of the company over the domestic realm for inhabitants of the hostels blurred the boundaries between public and personal life, the mechanisms of HIV management simultaneously serve to sharpen other social boundaries. As Schoepf argues, ‘a major social fault line is drawn between people of high moral repute and stigmatized “others”… represented as bringing sickness – constructed as social pollution’ (Schoepf 2001: 344). The practices of HIV containment at the mines re-draw these social fault lines in a bid to protect the moral fabric of the mine and its workforce as insiders, from the social pollution and physical infection brought by outsiders. An article in Anglo American’s journal Optima describes an influx of squatters bringing ‘crime, disease and prostitution’ to mining areas (Russell-Walling 2006: 51). Similarly, a union shop steward spoke of the need to protect mineworkers from ‘becoming victims of the prostitutes in the squatter camps’ (interview, Trent Shaft, Rustenburg Mines, 19 May 2005). Once again, the dominant discourse

Corporate Responsibility and HIV Management in South Africa


of HIV management at the mines recalls colonial attempts to classify, stratify and segregate the working population from the non-working population in order to protect the former group from the social contagion and lawlessness of the latter (Cooper 1987). Circle of Hope describes its vision as ‘thinking beyond boundaries in the fight against HIV/AIDS by empowering the infected and affected with faith, care and support’ (Anglo Platinum 2003a: 2). The moral overtones of this mission connect with the portrayal of the company as a vehicle of broad social improvement and compassionate capitalism. At the same time, the market logic of ‘the business case for CSR’ strives to reassert the primacy of shareholder value (and clearly delineated boundaries to corporate care). The logic of CSR presents the interests of the company and those of its employees as one: ‘the thing about AIDS is it teaches you the value of humans and human capital. A good response to AIDS is synonymous with good management and good management is good business and good business is one to invest in’ (Interview with Chief Medical Officer, Anglo American Johannesburg, 2 May 2005). But there is a fundamental contradiction between valuing humans and valuing human capital. The logic of enlightened self-interest casts labour as a facet of production, conflating social responsibility with the desire to maintain productive efficiency and thus glossing the tension between them. By framing ART as a benefit, provided free of charge by the company to its employees, a perception is generated that, as Toby Zwick of the Chamber of Mines put it, ‘I am being looked after and I am apparently not paying for it’.

The Edge of Responsibility: Beyond the Mining Complex Circle of Hope’s HIV prevention plan set out to map the ‘community’, beyond the perimeter fence through a ‘sexually transmitted infection surveillance programme’ within a 10km distance. The aim was to create an economic risk profile of the pandemic, by targeting ‘female commercial sex workers (and) female partners of male attendees’ (Anglo Platinum 2003b: 16). The map depicts the hostels at the centre, surrounded by informal settlements marked ‘high risk areas for transmission for STIs’ and ‘divided into discrete, manageable zones’ (ibid.). The desire for sharp boundaries (arguably a product of the cartographic tendencies of an extractive company) cleanses this map of the intricate social relations that straddle the workplace and the informal settlements. As Scott observes, the process of demarcation, classification and rationalization not only enables the state and, in this case the company, to ‘get


Dinah Rajak

a handle on its subjects’ (Scott 1998: 2), but also to ‘remake’ social realities in its image. The great advantage of such tunnel vision is that it brings into sharp focus specific elements of a ‘far more complex and unwieldy reality’; making it amenable to control, and isolating the ‘slice of social life’ that is of interest to the observer, in this case, Anglo Platinum (Scott 1998: 11). It does so by aiming its interventions at particular targets; making them distinct from those who are not in its line of vision or interest; and thereby territorializing the company’s responsibility. And yet, in spite of the mapping, profiling and routine surveillance, the corporate panopticon is limited in its capacity both to see and organize the workforce and to insulate it from so-called ‘externalities’, which remain illegible. Cooper tells us that the colonial state strove to ‘preserve the infant urban working class from the contagions of the idle, the criminal, and the rural’. But its efforts resulted in a more fragmented workforce, ‘but not in a purified city’ (Cooper 1987: 181). The same could be said of the company’s workplace HIV intervention. Between 2004 and 2005 the number of hostel residents dropped from 15,885 to 14,928 (Anglo Platinum 2005: 91). As mineworkers opt to live outside the hostels in increasing numbers they move beyond the paternalistic authority of the company, contesting the boundaries that such endeavours have resurrected, and confounding managerial attempts to spatialize the responsibility (and indeed authority) within the confines of the workplace. Where Cooper (1987) described the capacity of capital to draw a stark divide between job and no job, in the post-apartheid workplace that stark divide has become further fragmented – riven by inequalities between skilled and unskilled worker, between old and young and between contractor and sub-contractor (Crush et al 2001; Breckenridge 2012). For the rise in CSR over the past fifteen odd years and the extension of benefits (largely restricted to the permanent employee) has been accompanied by a parallel rise in the use of subcontracted labour at the mines. ARTs, together with housing, food and education programmes are not provided to subcontractors even if they have worked at Anglo, Lonmin, or Impala for years. Once reserved primarily for the temporary work of shaft-sinking, subcontractors now constitute around one third of the workforce at most of the platinum mines. At Lonmin for example, subcontractors accounted for 9,131 of a total workforce of 33,046 (Benchmarks Foundation 2012: 72). Equally, while Anglo Platinum drastically reduced its use of subcontractors from 14,014 in 2009 to 5,513 in 2012, this may well reflect (and therefore veil) mass retrenchments at the Anglo Platinum mines in the wake of the financial crisis in 2009–2010 (Benchmarks Foundation 2012: 45). What such increases highlight, then, is something new: the capacity of corporate managerialism to create fresh

Corporate Responsibility and HIV Management in South Africa


inequities alongside the old within the lower ranks of the mining workforce and their dependents. Employees who voluntarily subscribe to the company’s Platinum Health Insurance scheme receive benefits (including ART) for their spouses. But few can afford to do so. Dr McAllister estimated the number of subscriptions as ‘at most 5000 out of 25,000 and… most of those will be in the higher grades’. The company’s 2006 Report to Society stated that, ‘the majority of employees choose to rely on the national health system for the health care of their families’ (emphasis added). But the report goes on to acknowledge that this source of health care is, in reality, unreliable. ‘Although ART is available in this setting, waiting times are long and service provision is patchy’ (Anglo American 2006: 27). Clara Xorile, a psychologist at Rustenburg mines, suggested this was not a matter of choice: the cost was prohibitive for most miners, while the scheme failed to acknowledge the physical distance between migrants and their families who are excluded from the mine’s welfare community. This makes the demarcation of corporate responsibility easier: ‘for many their (the miners’) wives are in the rural areas so we don’t even come into contact with them’ (Interview, Rustenburg, 9 April 2005). The exclusionary gaze of the company on its human capital, thus rendered the dependents of mineworkers invisible to the exercise of CSR, even where it extends into the intimate realm of personal relations and sexuality. However, it is not purely, nor chiefly, the geographical distance that facilitates this displacement of the social responsibilities and costs of the mining industry onto poor rural households, and enables this century-long denial of the social worlds of migrant miners beyond the hostel. In many cases the separation between mineworkers and their dependents is not marked by physical distance. Where dependents live in the informal settlements just outside the hostels, they remain equally outside the figurative boundary of responsibility that conforms to the contours of the perimeter fence. In 2008 the company announced its intention to extend ART to dependents (Anglo American 2008: 30). This poses a major practical challenge in relation to tracking dependents back to so-called ‘remote areas’ (ibid.), highlighting the geographical and discursive border between the company and the world outside. It also raises questions about who the company will categorise as dependents, and whether this will incorporate or further marginalize those who live close by in the informal settlements, but who subvert the classic profile of the migrant miner’s rural home life. At its most basic level, the reality that is expunged from this corporate vision is migrancy itself embodied in the figure of the rock driller. Rock drillers, who make up the bulk of the underground workforce, are the


Dinah Rajak

lowest rank of the industry’s Patterson salary scale. They are the ones literally at the platinum face, drilling into the unpredictable seams where they face the immediate threat of rock falls and injury, the short-term health risks of TB, which is perfectly incubated in the humid conditions underground, and the long-term health risks of silicosis. Deemed an anachronism, a vestige of the old South Africa who do not fit the storyline of the new South Africa they have been all but excised from the hegemonic narrative of empowered entrepreneurial citizens pursuing the dream of upward mobility. In its effort to demarcate zones of protection and wellness, the spatialization of corporate care stands in stark contrast to the constant peril and exposure to ill health that defines the working life of miners, and rock drillers in particular (Phakathi 2013). Within this meta-narrative of denial, the material reality of migrant life continues to be externalized from the framework of CSR, and the simple fact (which remains unacknowledged by the mines’ housing services) that if a miner is supporting a family in the Eastern Cape or Lesotho the living out allowance of around R1,800 is barely enough to rent a shack in the squatter camps. This is especially the case in and around Rustenburg where the platinum boom in the early 2000s led to massive appreciation in the property market and a substantial shortage of low-cost housing: ‘If you live outside the hostels you get the living out allowance, which means you cannot afford to live anywhere but the informal settlements… It’s not a choice, either the shack or the hostel’ (Conversation with Prosper Masinga, NUM shop steward, Rustenburg Mines, 19 May 2005). Rather than a mark of progressive corporate responsibility and commitment to the autonomy of employers, the living out allowance is itself an act of profound externalization: In the past the mine would supply a concrete ‘bed’ and meals. Workers could send home to the rural areas most of their pay… [Now] on our small wages we have to pay for our own beds and meals. Many workers now have two families here and back home. (Union shop steward, quoted in Mapaila 2012)

As increasing aspects of social welfare are dispensed by non-state entities through exclusionary and narrowly targeted processes of corporate care to specific constituencies, it is not purely capital that can be credited with creating such fragmentation and inequity. It is the administration of welfare itself that serves to divide and rule. The outcome is two mutually dependent yet seemingly antithetical dimensions of the Janus-faced corporate form – the one asserting responsibility for worker care and welfare in the very same moment that the other externalizes it. In the former we see a corporate paternalism over the company’s direct human capital (i.e.

Corporate Responsibility and HIV Management in South Africa


its permanent workforce) reminiscent of colonial and apartheid regimes of total control (see Rubbers and Jedlowski, this volume). In the latter we see that the benefits extended through CSR can be highly exclusionary, reserved only for that shrinking portion of the workforce that the corporation claims as its own, while rendering subcontractors and dependents as ineligible.

The End of Responsibility: ‘A Handover to Nothing’ The big question now is, what do you do with workers who leave your employment or you have to get rid of for other reasons? —Interview with Chris Carrick, Anglo American executive, London, 9 August 2004

The geographic dislocation of responsibility described above alerts us equally to the short-term and contingent nature of corporate care, as the spatial dynamics of externalization intersect with temporal dynamics. In 2005, the wellness programme was, according to Dr McAllister, ‘relatively cheap’ at about R300 per person per month.3 This was in part because two thirds of the medical costs of HIV are incurred in ‘the final illness’ and, McAllister explained, most will have been ‘sent home by then’ (Interview with Dr McAllister, Anglo Platinum Rustenburg Hospital 25 April 2005). The wellness programme was provided to mineworkers for as long as they were employed at the company. If they were retrenched, assessed unfit for work due to illness, or left, they were given three months of ART and then handed over to the state service. The Anglo American 2006 Report to Society states, ‘we strive to ensure that individuals leaving our employment continue their treatment through other programmes’ (Anglo American 2006: 27). Zuneid Moosa, a doctor at the Platinum Health Hospital in Rustenburg, explained: We provide ART for as long as they’re improving and are fit for work, and 95 per cent of those on ART are healthy and back at work. But once they’ve plateaued, those who aren’t well enough to work get medically boarded, dismissed and passed on to the government health providers. (Conversation with Dr Moosa, Rustenburg, 3 March 2005)

Anglo Platinum sets out this process as formal protocol, ‘Progression Towards AIDS: Step 3: Creation of an Interface between Anglo Platinum and Labour Sending Areas’:


Dinah Rajak

Where employees do not meet the required level of performance or attendance, as determined by the company, and exceed the sick leave allocation, employees will be referred to the company designated medical officer. The medical officer will confidentially discuss and determine the contents of the medical examination … An opinion will be provided to the company as regards to the employees [sic] prognosis and ability to fulfil the job requirements. If the employee is declared to be permanently unfit to work, with no possibility of rehabilitation, the HR manager will investigate the viability to invoke the procedures and principles of dismissal because of incapacity in terms of the Labour Relations Act 1995, Act 66 of 1955 … A medically repatriated employee will not be able to access the workplace care and support programme. Anglo Platinum will commit to follow up the cases for a period of six months to ensure that the employee has made a smooth transition into the community care… system within the labour sending area. (Anglo Platinum 2003c: 9, emphasis added)

Despite the focus on creating an ‘interface’ between the ‘services offered in the workplace environment’ and ‘the community environment’ (ibid.: 4), the transition from company employee to ‘repatriated employee’ represents a boundary. The consensus among the company’s ART coordinators in Rustenburg was that once a mineworker had left the company, hope of a ‘continuum of care’ (Anglo Platinum 2003a: 58) was at best highly optimistic. Martha Lesego, ART coordinating nurse at Anglo Platinum’s Rustenburg hospital commented that: If a person gets medically boarded the company will support them with ART for three months and then transfer them to the government stream… As you are aware the government is not yet very far along with their rollout. (Interview, Rustenburg, 15 June 2005)

McAllister was even more explicit about this ‘hand-over to nothing’: When workers leave the employment of the mine we write a very nice letter detailing the status of the patient, his CD-4 Count … ‘this person is on such and such a combination’ … and it goes to a sister in a little rural clinic in the Eastern Cape … and then it stops. It’s a hand-over to nothing. (Interview, Rustenburg, 25 May 2005)

With the high turnover of staff in the lower grades of mine employment (one shaft manager put it close to 100 per cent turnover in five years), the hope, according to McAllister, is that ‘sometimes treatment will be picked up by other work places if they’ve moved jobs. Unless of course they’re too sick to work’, he added. There is little doubt that in the context of the current economic downturn, that few retrenched Anglo employees will be in a position to find a permanent job at another mining company

Corporate Responsibility and HIV Management in South Africa


that offers the benefits of a workplace HIV wellness programme, making the chance of a ‘continuum of care’ slim at best. Yet, while most of the mine’s medical staff acknowledged the difficulties of ensuring uninterrupted compliance to a drug regime, given job insecurity in the mining industry, few spoke explicitly about the concerns this raised for multi-drug resistance. Concern was however expressed by Gilbert Mogapi, an Anglo Platinum socio-economic development officer at the Rustenburg mines: Once it is rolled out, the service cannot be interrupted. Once you start with ART you can’t discontinue it, if you come off it for a month, you cannot go back on because of the danger of multi-drug resistant strains. Even in places where the rollout is the most advanced, like in Gauteng or the Western Cape, you might wait 6 months on a list. In rural areas in the Eastern Cape, it’s virtually non-existent. (Interview, Rustenburg, 25 May 2005)

Dr van Zyl dismissed such fears. It was precisely the expectation that (in spite of the company’s efforts) few employees would in fact find treatment elsewhere after leaving the Anglo care programme that allayed concerns about multi-drug resistance: If you have a quick, clean cut then it’ll be ok. If you completely suppress it, it’s fine, and if you don’t suppress it at all, it’s fine – well not for them – but fine in terms of mutant strains. It’s if you partially suppress it, or come off and on sporadically, that you get escaped mutants and that has severe epidemiological consequences. Also remember that, at this point, the number of people in the company on ART is still pretty small because VCT uptake has been slow. (Interview, Rustenburg, 25 May 2005)

A number of issues emerge in light of van Zyl’s observations. He was firm on the company’s policy to mitigate the risk of multi-drug resistance by demanding either full compliance or complete termination of treatment because of the ‘serious epidemiological consequences’ of partial suppression or sporadic treatment. At the same time, he, like McAllister, had made it clear that the likelihood that workers who were dismissed would find alternative sources of ART was at best unpredictable, and thus there was no way of knowing the treatment regimen of former employees would be once they left the Anglo medical system. Van Zyl further suggested that the risk of multi-drug resistance was minimized, as the cohort of Anglo Platinum workers on ART was ‘still pretty small’. However, the commitment to increasing participation in VCT and enrolment in the wellness programme demonstrates the hope that numbers would grow significantly over the coming years. As Farmer argues, multi-drug resistance should be viewed as the product of particular political and social


Dinah Rajak

relations (Farmer 1997: 348). In this case, fears of multi-drug resistance are revealing of the limits of corporate care, and the disjuncture between a corporate HIV intervention and state provision. This challenges the dominant projection of the company’s HIV intervention as a moral and political stand against the ineptitude of government. In practice, the corporate care programme reflects instead the particular interests of the company: to maintain worker health as long as employees are within the spatial confines of the workplace, the structural confines of the Anglo system and, crucially, as long as they are economically productive. The enduring terminology of mineworker ‘repatriation’, in both official company HIV policy and in the everyday discourse of medical personnel and hostel managers, was striking: an artefact of colonial and apartheidera labour regimes that endured during the course of almost a century. Yet, apartheid-era ‘influx controls’, which restricted the movement of black workers between the dually constructed worlds of ‘homeland’ and workplace were dismantled almost thirty years ago. Still, the discursive separation of the mine from broader society remains a significant element in understanding how contemporary discourses of HIV management at the mines reinscribe spatial, moral and political boundaries between the workplace and society.

Conclusion Despite (or perhaps because of) its emphasis on scenario forecasting, Anglo Platinum’s future vision of worker care is myopic. For it is premised on a denial or obfuscation of the effects of corporate welfare dispensation beyond the workplace; outcomes that may be deferred by CSR, but become all the more inevitable. In the end, this brings home how perilous and exclusionary this new social–moral contract is, premised as it is on corporate patronage that is simultaneously coercive and fickle, for it can be extended or withdrawn at will (Rajak 2011). This was captured in the most visceral way in the aftermath of the Marikana Massacre of 34 striking rock drillers on the platinum belt in 2012 and the wave of strikes that paralyzed the industry following the killings. In the second year of the strikes, in a bid to get rock drillers back to work, Anglo American closed the hostel kitchens where a great many miners, even those who do not live in the hostels, survive on one meal a day. This single act brought into sharp focus the violence of corporate responsibility as an instrument of benevolent tyranny (or tyrannical benevolence?) that enables companies to give and withhold benefits as techniques of control used in undermining worker agency. The Marikana Massacre and its aftermath

Corporate Responsibility and HIV Management in South Africa


has reaffirmed that CSR has the peculiar capacity to dehumanize even as it claims an ethic of care. This form of corporate welfare turns humans into human capital, a productive resource to be nurtured, controlled or repressed through the provision or withholding of even the most basic welfare and social goods, in this case food. At the same time, Marikana has come to symbolize not only the struggle for recognition by the country’s disenfranchised miners, but a much broader struggle by underpaid and marginalized workers in other sectors such as agriculture, by subcontractors at the mercy of flexible contracts and ruthless labour brokers, by the jobless inhabitants of squatter camps who live on the fringes of mine territories. The predicament of those who have lived in a state of chronic impermanence has, quite paradoxically, come to permanently define the ‘new’ South Africa for many millions of its citizens (James 2011). The protests around the platinum mines brought together subcontractors, rock-drillers and squatters alike in ways that defy corporate processes of divide and rule chronicled in this chapter, creating new solidarities in collective demands for jobs for the jobless, and fairer wages for the poorest workers, for protection and security. Such petitions for a renewal of corporate paternalism may seem anachronistic – recalling in part the Thompsonian moral economy of the English peasantry seeking protection from their overlords against the ravages of the market (Thompson 1991) – but they are quite distinct. The expectations of paternalism which have come to define the politics of protest at South Africa’s mines over the past few years, have done so in the wake of the global economic crisis, as the only recourse left for claim-making from below.4 They reveal change as much as continuity in the corporate dispensation of welfare in South African’s mining territories. For while the practices of corporate-sponsored welfare reinvigorate century-old forms of patronage and clientelism both on and around the mines (Moodie 1994; Carstens 2001), they are now both more exclusive and more contingent than the total and comprehensive paternalism once so characteristic of the Southern African minescape. As James Ferguson makes clear, such ‘declarations of dependence’ – which in this case look to the self-styled corporate sponsors of welfare and empowerment rather than the state – should be seen as an activist mode of claim-making, rather than a ‘retrograde yearning for paternalism’ (Ferguson 2013: 223). After all, if corporations such as Anglo are to be taken seriously in their declarations of corporate social responsibility, it stands to reason that workers (as well as those who live tantalizingly close to the benefits extended through CSR) must try to compel companies to make good on their promise to take care of them, by whatever means they can.


Dinah Rajak

Acknowledgements This chapter has been amended from an article first published in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute Volume 16(3) 2010. Dinah Rajak is Reader in Anthropology and International Development at the University of Sussex. She is the author of In Good Company: An Anatomy of Corporate Social Responsibility (Stanford University Press, 2011), co-editor of The Anthropology of Corporate Social Responsibility (Berghahn, 2016), and the co-founder of the Centre for New Economies of Development (

Notes  1., accessed January 2015.  2. For the purposes of anonymity, the names of informants have been changed, except those informants such as the company chairman, who are public figures.  3. The exchange rate for this period (September 2004–July 2005) fluctuated between 8 and 6 Rand to the US Dollar, strengthening considerably in the first half of 2005 to 6 Rand to the US$.  4. Expectations of paternalism have long been entrenched in the South African political economy – legacies of apartheid which were as much cultivated/imposed from above as voiced from below (Bolt 2013; James 2014).

References Anglo American. 2005. ‘Report to Society 2005: A Climate of Change’. London.  . 2006. ‘Report to Society 2006. A Climate of Change’. London.  . 2008. ‘Report to Society 2008: Making a Difference’. London. Anglo Platinum. 2003a. ‘Circle of Hope Community Project Strategic Business Plan’. Johannesburg.  . 2003b. ‘Circle of Hope Community Project Case Study November’. Johannesburg.  . 2003c. ‘Anglo Platinum’s Community-Based HIV/AIDS Care and Support Strategic Plan’. Johannesburg.  . 2005. ‘Annual Report 2005 Volume 2: Sustainable Development Report’. Johannesburg. Bench Marks Foundation. 2012. ‘A Review of Platinum Mining in the Bojanala District of the North West Province: A Participatory Action Research (PAR)

Corporate Responsibility and HIV Management in South Africa


Approach’. Johannesburg, retrieved March 2015 from Biehl, J. 2007. Will to Live: AIDS Therapies and the Politics of Survival. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Bolt, M. 2013. ‘Producing Permanence: Employment, Domesticity and the Flexible Future on a South African Border Farm’, Economy and Society 42(2): 197–225. Bream, R. 2006. ‘Gold Fever Spurs Frenzy of Mining Acquisitions’. Financial Times, 31 August, 31. Breckenridge, K. 2012. ‘Revenge of the Commons: The Crisis in the South African Mining Industry’, History Workshop Online, 5 November 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2014 from revenge-of-the-commons-the-crisis-in-the-south-african-mining-industry/. Brink, B., and L. Clausen. 1987. ‘The Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome’. Journal of the Mine Medical Officers’ Association of South Africa 63: 10-17. Campbell, C. 1997. ‘Migrancy, Masculine Identities and AIDS: The Psychosocial Context of HIV Transmission on the South African Gold Mines’, Social Science and Medicine 45(2): 273–281. Carstens, P. 2001. In the Company of Diamonds: De Beers, Kleinzee and the Control of a Town. Athens: Ohio University Press. Cooper, F. 1987. On the African Waterfront: Urban Disorder and Transformation of Work in Colonial Mombasa. New Haven: Yale University Press. Crisp, J. 1983. ‘Productivity and Protest: Scientific Management in the Ghanaian Gold Mines, 1947–1956’, in F. Cooper (ed.), Struggle for the City: Migrant Labour, Capital, and the State in Urban Africa, London: Sage Publications, pp. 91–130. Crush, J., T. Ulicki, T. Tseane and E.J. van Veuren. 2001. ‘Undermining Labour: The Rise of Sub-Contracting in South African Gold Mines’, Journal of Southern African Studies 27(1): 5–31. Ecks, S. 2008. ‘Global Pharmaceutical Markets and Corporate Citizenship: The Case of Novartis’ Anti-cancer Drug Glivec’, Biosocieties 3: 165–181. Farmer, P. 1997. ‘Social Scientists and the New Tuberculosis’, Social Science and Medicine 44(3): 347–358. Fearnley, C. 2005. ‘HIV and AIDS Risk Management at Rustenburg Section, Anglo Platinum’, Applied Earth Science 114(3): B146–B153. Ferguson, J. 2013. ‘Declarations of Dependence: Labour, Personhood, and Welfare in Southern Africa’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19(2): 223–242. Gumede, W. 2012. ‘South Africa: Marikana is a Turning Point’, The Guardian, August 29, retrieved 27 April 2015 from commentisfree/2012/aug/29/marikana-turning-point-south-africa. James, D. 2011. ‘The Return of the Broker: Consensus, Hierarchy and Choice in South African Land Reform’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 17(2): 318–338.  . 2014. Money from Nothing: Aspiration and Indebtedness in South Africa. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press. Lichtenstein, A. 2012. ‘What Went Wrong at Marikana’, Los Angeles Review of Books, 1 September, retrieved 27 April 2015 from what-went-wrong-at-marikana-3.


Dinah Rajak

Mamdani, M. 1996. Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Mapaila, S. 2012. ‘A Marikana Story that isn’t Being Told’, Umsebenzi Online (South African Communist Party), retrieved 28 April 2015 from za/main.php?ID=3736#one. Marks, S. 2006. ‘The Silent Scourge? Silicosis, Respiratory Disease and GoldMining in South Africa’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 32(4): 569–589. Mauss, M. 1967 [1925]. The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies, trans. Ian Cunnison. New York: W.W. Norton and Company. Moodie, D. 1994. Going for Gold: Men, Mines and Migration. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Packard, R. 1989. ‘The “Healthy Reserve” and the “Dressed Native”: Discourses on Black Health and the Language of Legitimation in South Africa’, American Ethnologist 16(4): 686–703. Petryna, A., A. Lakoff and A. Kleinman (eds). 2006. Global Pharmaceuticals: Ethics, Markets, Practices. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Phakathi, T.S. 2013. ‘“Getting On and Getting By” Underground: Gold Miners’ Informal Working Practice of Making a Plan (Planisa)’, Journal of Organizational Ethnography 2(2): 126–149. Rajak, D. 2011. In Good Company: An Anatomy of Corporate Social Responsibility. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press. Ramphele, M. 1993. A Bed Called Home: Life in the Migrant Labour Hostels of Cape Town. Athens: Ohio University Press. Randera, F. 2003. ‘The Mining Industry and HIV/AIDS’, Chamber of Mines of South Africa for the ‘Tripartite HIV/AIDS Summit’, 30 April 2003. Johannesburg. Russell-Walling, E. 2006. ‘Improving our Impacts: Anglo’s Socio-Economic Assessment Toolbox (SEAT)’, Optima 52(1): 50–59, retrieved 28 April 2015 from media/publication/optima/optima_vol52_2006-new.pdf. Schoepf, B. 2001. ‘International AIDS Research in Anthropology: Taking a Critical Perspective on the Crisis’, Annual Review of Anthropology 30: 335–361. Scott, J. 1998. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven: Yale University Press. Smith, D. 2009. ‘Anglo American Sheds 15,000 Jobs as Profits are Hit by Falling Metals Prices’, Guardian, 31 July. Sparshott, J. 2009. ‘Anglo American to Slash Jobs’, Wall Street Journal, 21 February. Sunter, C. 1987. The World and South Africa in the 1990’s. Cape Town: Human and Rousseau. Thompson, E.P. 1991. Customs in Common: Studies in Traditional Popular Culture. New York: The New Press. Thornton, R. 2008. Unimagined Community: Sex, Networks, and AIDS in Uganda and South Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press. UNAIDS. 2012. ‘Global AIDS Response Progress Report 2012’. Republic of South Africa, retrieved 10 April 2015 from country/documents//ce_ZA_Narrative_Report.pdf.

Corporate Responsibility and HIV Management in South Africa


 . 2013. ‘Epidemiological Factsheet on HIV and Aids 2013’. Geneva: Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS, retrieved 13 May 2015 from Van Blommestein, J.H.G. 1971. ‘The Ernest Oppenheimer Hospital’, in A. Cartwright (ed.), Doctors of the Mines: With a History of the Work of Mine Medical Officers. Cape Town: Purnell, pp. 100–106. Williams, B., E. Gouws, M. Lurie and J. Crush. 2002. Spaces of Vulnerability: Migration and HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa. (Migration Policy Series Number 24). Cape Town: Southern African Migration Project. Wilson, F. 1972. Labour in the South African Gold Mines, 1911–1969. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chapter 6

What Are People with Disabilities Responsible For?

The Study of Political, Social and Family Responsibilities in the Context of Locomotor Disability (Cape Flats, South Africa) Marie Schnitzler


n 9 December 2015, the South African Department of Social Development ratified the White Paper for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (WPRPD), a legislative framework that aims to align national and local policies with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Firstly, this disposition reasserts the commitment of the government to the social issue of disability, an issue that had already been acknowledged in the 1990s during the transition from apartheid (1948–1990) to a multiracial democracy (Howell, Chalklen and Alberts 2006). Secondly, the WPRPD illustrates the growing reference to the notion of responsibility in South African policies. Indeed, a section of the text develops all parties’ responsibilities and functions in relation to the matter, and this includes the state, the disability associations, the traditional or religious leaders, the media and advertising industry and the research and academic institutions. As such, the treatment of the issue of disability in South Africa seems an interesting starting point from which to study the current transformations of the discourses around, and the moral practices of, responsibility on the African continent. Documented by an ethnographic research on the experience of locomotor disability in South Africa, this chapter questions the different forms of responsibilities that are at play. Locomotor disability has been defined as a lack of mobility due to an impairment of the lower limbs. The objective, as stated in the introduction of the book, is to move away

Responsibilities in the Context of Locomotor Disability


from an analysis that reduces the ongoing process of responsibilization to a modern form of liberal governance (see also Trnka and Trundle 2017). While we must not underestimate the socio-political transformations that have ‘entailed a new conception of the subjects to be governed; that these would be autonomous and responsible individuals, freely choosing how to behave and act’ (Miller and Rose 2008: 18), this chapter offers a consideration of other types of responsibility that are prescribed by social obligations or are embedded in personal relationships. In the field of disability, three discourses on responsibility cohabit: (a) the political aspect of responsibility that is presented in policies and other legal texts, (b) the idea of responsibility as an individual ‘fault’, and (c) the family and social responsibilities that are ruled by social norms. I argue that it is through the interactions between those legal prescriptions, moral norms and inter-individual expectations, together with the ways that individuals negotiate them, that the regime of responsibilities for disability emerges in South Africa. Each of these discourses is influenced by the history of the country, marked by centuries of racial segregation, by hopes relating to the new multiracial democracy, which was established in the 1990s, and, more recently, by the disenchantments that have arisen due to policies of liberalisation. The discussion uses data gathered during eighteen months of fieldwork in Mitchell’s Plain between January 2014 and April 2017. Mitchell’s Plain is a 43 km² zone in Cape Town that has been developed as a Coloured township since 1974.1 Its population exceeded 310,000 people in 2011 (City of Cape Town 2013: 2). Despite the abolition of the Group Area Act in the 1990s,2 the area has remained predominantly Coloured. Moreover, Mitchell’s Plain and its Cape Flats surroundings have shown little improvement since the end of apartheid in the fields of education and employment. The significant number of people with disabilities living in the township may be explained by the high level of drug and gang-related violence in the area, violence that inflicts disabling injuries. Another explanation relates to the low prices of housing, which make the area attractive to families whose incomes are strained by the situation of disability. However, Mitchell’s Plain is also targeted by programmes of reconstruction. One of these programmes led to the opening of the most specialised physical rehabilitation centre in the country in 2006. The methods of research entailed participant observation and semi-directive interviews. The participants were selected through various organisations for the rights of people with disabilities that are active in Mitchell’s Plain. The first section of this chapter returns to the White Paper to understand how the notion of responsibility is used in South African policies in relation to disability. The second section questions the attribution of


Marie Schnitzler

a ‘fault’ to people with disabilities regarding their condition. The last part of the discussion focuses on family responsibilities in regard to housing and financial support. In conclusion, this analysis aims to show how these variegated forms of responsibility can influence, support, or compete with one another, forming, in the process, a specific regime of responsibility that is constantly in the making.

Political Responsibilities: The White Paper for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2015 Although South Africa adopted national guidelines on the issue of disability in 1997, many observers criticized its lack of implementation (Dube 2005; Heap, Lorenzo and Thomas 2009; Watermeyer et al. 2006; Watermeyer 2013). Consequently, the WPRPD endorsed an outcomesbased approach that links the idea of responsibility with the notion of accountability. This human rights approach therefore aims at the development of ‘people’s capacity to demand accountability in two ways: firstly, by defining a minimum scope of legitimate claims (human rights), and, secondly, by strengthening the accountability mechanisms and processes to protect these claims (such as the justice system)’ (DSD 2015: 32). However, the responsibilities described in the text do not have the same nature and the stakeholders’ accountability therefore varies in its forms: it can be mandatory by law, a condition for accessing specific resources, or a simple injunction with no real incentive. The South African state is the first actor mentioned in the WPRPD. It is responsible, firstly, for adapting its legal framework and plans to the principles of empowerment, inclusion, social participation and equality. Secondly, it has to finance different programmes to raise awareness around the issue of disability, to promote work and educational opportunities for people with disabilities, to make the physical environment accessible, etc. These objectives can be achieved through specific actions that target people with disabilities, quotas in projects, anti-discrimination rules or awareness around the issue of disability in mainstream programmes. Thirdly, the state remains the main actor for the collection, analysis and reporting of data relating to the actions that are put in place and their results. Nonetheless, the government cannot act alone. The state is one actor among others, and its fourth role is to coordinate the different actions that ensure and promote people with disabilities’ rights: ‘the South African state thus has the primary responsibility to guarantee the existence of circumstances in which every individual and community can exercise their rights’ (ibid.: 31). In other words, public bodies have to

Responsibilities in the Context of Locomotor Disability


provide a capacitating environment that enables people with disabilities, their families and their representatives to act. This principle is embedded in the logic of empowerment that has been promoted by the ANC since its election in 1994. Most of those responsibilities are a synthesis of obligations that are stated in existing international conventions or in South African legislation, such as the Constitution of 1996. For the rest, the different public bodies are responsible for actualizing their own regulations. Nonetheless, these means of accountability have shown their limits as they failed to materialise the guidelines of 1997. To enhance public accountability, the WPRPD therefore created the National Disability Rights Machinery, a platform on which state representatives meet the members of various associations in order to answer questions or criticisms regarding their actions. This mechanism of confrontation is believed to improve the capacity of the state’s partners to hold it accountable. However, the South African participatory democracy has been criticized for limiting citizens’ voices and their claims to representation through the associations or bodies that are recognized as legitimate interlocutors by the state (Brown 2015; Miraftab 2004a; Pieterse 2008). The South African government thus distinguishes between ‘invited spaces of mobilisation’, in which demands and requests are defined as legitimate, and ‘invented spaces of mobilisation’ whose actors’ claims are discredited (Miraftab 2004b). The creation of the Disability Rights Machinery seems to reproduce this pyramidal logic and, consequently, the risk of excluding some actors from the discussion, including citizens who are not affiliated to any representative body, as well as small-scale organisations, whose voice is either silenced or limited to local discussions. A second actor responsible for the enactment of the WPRPD is comprised of the associations of and for people with disabilities. Their functions include participation in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the various programmes that are relevant to the issue of disability. This also implies collaborating with the National Disability Rights Machinery. Moreover, representative associations are required to empower their members in various ways, namely, through informing, facilitating registration in different programmes, organising protests, and delivering services. These multiple roles are not enforced by law, as is the case for most state requirements. Nonetheless, the public financial support, upon which most of the civil organisations depend, creates a conditional responsibility: based on the monitoring and evaluation of actions undertaken, the public funding or status as a non-profit organisation (which allows an association to raise funds) can be withdrawn.


Marie Schnitzler

It must be underlined that these roles are not all regarded as being legitimate by the members of these associations. The political function of lobbying is usually accepted to be the main duty of organisations. However, as pointed out earlier, some uncertainties remain regarding the capacity of small-scale and local associations to be heard at the national level. On the other hand, the members often condemn the role of their association in the delivery of services to people with disabilities and their families. These functions are considered to be the government’s duties and their delivery by the associations is understood as a local response to state neglect, as well as the consequence of the politics of indirect support, decentralisation and territorialisation. Indeed, many people with disabilities, particularly in the townships, wish for a more extended welfare state. Another important actor identified by the White Paper are the families of people with disabilities. The 2015 text defends autonomous life inside the community for people with disabilities. Consequently, the state favours home support over specialised residential centres, drawing on the international critiques of these institutions from the 1960s (e.g. Goffman 1968), including the loss of individual liberty, the social isolation and the systematic segregation of people with disabilities and able-bodied people – a separation that mimics the racial divide imposed during the apartheid era. As such, the South African government sees residential facilities for people with disabilities as being a temporary (but necessary) evil for people with severe disabilities, whose hospitalisation costs too much (Office of the Premier 2002: 65). However, most of the discussion relates to the help given to people with disabilities, without taking into account people with disabilities’ possible inputs, both inside the centres and towards their relatives: ‘Disability does not only affect individuals, but also impacts on family members. Parents and primary caregivers in particular are often required to take life-changing decisions on what would constitute ‘the best interest’ of their children with disabilities’ (DSD 2015: 74). The responsibility and care for people with disabilities is mostly perceived as being an (economic) burden for families, and especially for the women in them. We will see in the last section that this perspective must be nuanced as households may also benefit from indirect support linked to the inclusion of a person with disability. Family responsibilities can thus be conditional in particular situations. Finally, the WPRPD also specifies some responsibilities for people with disabilities. Related to injunctions of participation and empowerment, these roles are mostly political and economic. Politically, people with disabilities are called upon to exercise their rights in the same way as any other citizen. Those include voting, being candidates at elections,

Responsibilities in the Context of Locomotor Disability


protesting, demanding justice when their rights are violated and so forth. We have seen that many of these political rights are channelled through associations for the rights of people with disabilities, but other entities can also be mobilized, e.g. Ward Committees or Workplace Forums. In the economic field, people with disabilities have to grasp work opportunities in order to become self-sufficient: [The empowerment approach] includes encouraging, and developing the skills for self-sufficiency, with a focus on eliminating the need for charity or welfare in the individuals of the group. … Medium and long-term emphasis has been on providing social grant beneficiaries with alternative income sources through gainful work and training, among others, through public employment programmes. (Ibid.: 93)

From this perspective, the WPRPD ‘provides the poor with the power to demand accountability to overcome poverty’ (ibid.: 32). It also implies that the opportunities given to people with disabilities must be used. In other words, citizens with disabilities are expected to demand their autonomy and to participate, to the best of their abilities, in the lives of their communities. Yet, there is no concrete apparatus to impose those rules on rights-holders. The South African understanding of empowerment and human rights, as described in the WPRPD, shares some features with the logics of ‘advanced liberalism’, which imply ‘a new relationship between strategies for the government of the self, situated within new relationships of mutual obligations: the community’ (Rose 1996: 331). As such, the enactment of the WPRPD redefines the role of public institutions and reconfigures ‘the understanding and the organisation of the social’ (ibid.: 329), but does not imply its disappearance. Firstly, many roles are reasserted as being mandatory to the government and its representatives. Indeed, the WPRPD aims to clarify the fields in which the state remains responsible, as well as facilitating the process by which it can be held accountable for its actions. Secondly, due to its focus on the rights of people with disabilities, as described in the United Nations Convention, the WPRPD do not regulate direct financial transfers to people with disabilities, namely, the disability social grant and compensation for occupational disability or road accidents. Furthermore, these financial transfers are not conditional on certain behaviours: anyone who passes the medical examination and has an annual income lower than ZAR 78,120 is eligible for the disability grant.3 There are no conditions around research for work or the creation of a ‘life project’, as is more and more the case in what is nowadays called the active welfare state (Franssen 2006; Vidal-Naquet 2009). The South African political apparatus around disability thus remains a hybrid


Marie Schnitzler

combination that associates principles of social protection, private insurance companies and public employment programmes. If the weight of liberal policies cannot be denied, it would be too reductive to restrict analysis to this dimension. Yet, although the WPRPD does not imagine the means to impose obligations on people with disabilities, other responsibilities emerge from outside the political field. To probe this idea, the next section examines the perception of disability as evidence of an individual ‘fault’.

The Individual ‘Fault’ around the Disability As for any other bodily disruption, giving sense to an impairment answers a persistent question: ‘why me?’ or ‘why him/her?’ In other words, it makes the incomprehensible suffering intelligible (ScheperHughes  2007). However, such reasoning can quickly lead to the questioning of the responsibility for the misfortune: ‘whose fault is it?’ In South Africa, the disability can sometimes be understood as evidence of a sin or as a punishment from God (Hannass-Hancock 2009) or as an act of witchcraft (Hannass-Hancock  2009; Hund, Stuttaford, Ngoma 2004). While the first explanation mostly underlines the disabled person’s fault, the second interpretation exteriorises the responsibility by placing it on a relative or an acquaintance. Although these ideas are not completely absent in Mitchell’s Plain, there is a more specific sense associated with locomotor disability in this insecure, and often violent, environment. Current statistics around traumatic spinal cord injuries in Cape Town show that men under thirty years of age are particularly affected (Joseph 2016). This trend is well known in Mitchell’s Plain and, consequently, the responsibilities relating to physical disabilities are gendered. Tarryn, a woman in her thirties who was paralysed after a taxi accident, explained: The thing is, that it is not all men that were stabbed or that were shot by a gang or… But most of them, the reasons that they are there [in the wheelchair] is that somebody shot them or they were stabbed, you know. When for women, let’s just say that for us, it was more like a natural thing because it was a car. You didn’t ask for it. Whereas for men, if you were stabbed, it was obviously because you were doing the wrong thing. And now you are sitting in this chair. You understand? So, for men, it will feel for people like they got to judge them, because it was their own fault. (August 2016)

On the one hand, Tarryn associated women with a ‘natural’ impairment, not in the sense of a birth impairment – that strikes women as much as men –, but regarding the nature of the accident that is external. She uses her own condition, a car accident, to make her point. It must be quickly

Responsibilities in the Context of Locomotor Disability


noticed here that this interpretation could surprise a reader informed on South Africa. Not only are there some women who have been paralysed by street violence, but South African women in the townships are often judged as responsible for their misfortune when occurring in a public space, especially in the case of rape (Gqola 2015; Salo 2003). The difference of judgements in these two situations, namely a disability or a rape, probably lies in the nature of this violence: while women are the primary target of sexual assaults – although cases of male-on-male rapes have been reported in South Africa (Jewkes et al. 2009) –, gang-related violence is specifically aimed at other men. When women are touched by this second type of violence, it is seen as an evil for which men are responsible. On the other hand, the perceptions of male disability are mostly stigmatising: men are said to be partly responsible for their state. In Mitchell’s Plain, this representation is based on the high level of gang activity as well as the presence of a rehabilitation centre specialised in spinal cord injuries. In this context, male wheelchairs come to symbolise the endemic violence of the neighbourhood. However, men in wheelchairs’ responsibility or ‘fault’ is not systematically acknowledged and many relatives try to clear their family member of any blame. This moral question concerning the origin of the impairment is not considered by the law, except for potential compensations in the case of car accidents or occupational injuries. As said earlier, the disability grant is only conditioned to a medical assessment that focuses on the loss of functioning, not on the cause of the impairment. However, such ideas of fault in the apparition of the disability can influence the relationships between the functionaries and the users of public services. Nonetheless, the social judgement of people with disabilities’ responsibilities and the prescriptions of the national legislation converge on another dimension, that is, the type of behaviour expected after the accident, once the disability is acknowledged. In practice, the blame placed on men with disabilities is mitigated by the possibility of redemption. The social judgement moves therefore to the person with disability’s behaviour after the impairment has been diagnosed. Tarryn’s explanation continued as follows: I feel in a situation like that [i.e. men being disabled due to their criminal activities], it all depends on what they’re gonna do about it. Because you actually have a choice after that: ‘I have done the wrong thing and this is the result of it’. So, what are you gonna do? Are you gonna change your life, or are you gonna keep doing the same thing? … Most of them, they stay with the gangs, in my opinion. As far as I have seen, they remained the same.  (August 2016)


Marie Schnitzler

Many men who have been hurt due to their gang involvement appropriate this narrative too: the redemption is therapeutic, as it associates the disability with a positive meaning and becomes the stepping-stone for a new identity. Sedik, a twenty-four-year-old man who worked for such a group during his youth while never officially joining the gang, testified: I told you there is a reason why I am sitting in this chair. … Because every day when I was with those people [i.e. the gangsters], when I was doing drugs, every day the same things over and over. … [Then] I asked God to put me on the stand, so I will have a life where I am capable of doing things. And then this actually happened [i.e. the accident]. I didn’t ask, ‘God please do it this way’. If God had to take my life, so be it. But God put me in this situation. … So [after a while] I prayed again and I thanked God, …, while at the beginning it was anger, demands and frustration. (January 2015)

Sedik interpreted the car accident as God’s way of answering his prayers. The accident became central to the young man’s new perception of himself: it gave him a chance to redeem himself. However, in day-to-day experience, this change is negotiated in context, and some ex-gangsters find it difficult to completely withdraw from their previous networks and activities. Logically, the idea of redemption is less present in the women’s interpretation of the situation of disability, since they do not need to answer to the same moral judgement regarding their impairment. Their speech thus mostly focuses on the personal amelioration that disability has brought into their life. From this perspective, disability becomes a challenge that strengthens individuals, a lesson to be learnt. In summary, these discourses interpret the disability as a ‘blessing in disguise’ (Goffman 1963: 11) and they challenge the negative representations of impairment, both for men and women. Despite these narratives, people with disabilities must still face some expectations regarding their behaviour. For instance, disability and its related physical problems reinforce the mainstream injunction for a healthy lifestyle. Alcohol and cigarettes are medically prohibited, due to the risk of bed sores, to weaker vital organs, or to a more sensitive stomach. Although these sanitary guidelines are not limited to people with disabilities, they are strongly reasserted for this population. This is particularly evident in Mitchell’s Plain, where the medical discourse is relayed through the physical rehabilitation centre. Furthermore, in the field of disability, sobriety becomes a condition for good health, and violence or road safety are part of the awareness-raising for disability and its causes. These behavioural norms are not trivial in the Coloured township, a place that is constantly stigmatised for its violent lifestyle, which is linked to gangs, drugs and alcohol. In other words, the section of the

Responsibilities in the Context of Locomotor Disability


population that is constituted of people with disabilities, a section which is said to be vulnerable and partly marginalised, is constantly reminded of general health principles, good behavioural norms and attention to the self. These self-responsibilities are, furthermore, extended to the need to raise awareness, as the WPRPD clearly states. Breaking these norms leads to social blame of a person who is said to be dependent or not well enough informed. As such, people with disabilities have a hyper-responsibility to themselves, but also, to some extent, to the rest of society. The similarities between public opinion on the behaviour of those with disabilities and the type of autonomous and responsible citizenship that is promoted by the 2015 White Paper are clearly identifiable here: in both cases, selfcare, autonomy and participation are expected from people with disabilities. However, those with disabilities in Mitchell’s Plain must also negotiate another type of responsibility, one that is not directed towards themselves or to the society at large. This last form of responsibility is embedded in family norms, and it takes place in household life, as the next section will show.

The Negotiation of the Social Norms of Solidarity In Mitchell’s Plain, as elsewhere, a hierarchy of responsibilities among family members can be identified: close relatives, like parents, spouses, siblings and children, are the most likely to take care of a relative who has a disability. After them comes the distant family. Finally, if relatives cannot take charge, then friends or neighbours will become involved. Despite these norms, it is not rare to see breakups or divorces after one of the partners has been injured. In these situations, the disability can offer a way out for an unhappy partner, but the disability can also just transform the relationship so deeply that it falls apart. The disability is a challenge: it must be endured, but it also tests family ties and reciprocal responsibilities. We have seen that the WPRPD comprehends these responsibilities as being a family burden. Three case studies will help to criticise and to nuance this perspective by presenting the variety of relationships and the role that interpersonal responsibilities play in residential arrangements. These examples also enlighten us to the impact of disability grants and other sources of income in the households concerned.

Case Study 1: Tarryn We met Tarryn a few pages ago. This coloured woman was the oldest of three children – two girls and one boy. When her parents divorced,


Marie Schnitzler

Tarryn and her siblings followed their mother (Sandra) to Johannesburg, where Sandra remarried a few years later. Sandra had a third daughter from this second marriage. In the 1990s, Tarryn became paralysed after a taxi accident. She was nineteen. After her hospitalisation, she went back to her mother’s. When Sandra died, in 2005, Tarryn moved to Cape Town to stay with her younger sister, Tertia. As Tertia started working for the police department, Tarryn helped her to raise her children, Jordan and Keith. As the children grew up, Tarryn’s support became less necessary. She therefore moved in with her father and a stepsister from one of her father’s other relationships. There, Tarryn took charge of the cooking as well as the laundry. She also paid a rent of 500 ZAR (around 30 euros) and participated in the food spending of the household thanks to her disability grant (1350 ZAR). In 2013, however, Tarryn grew tired of her stepsister’s lifestyle, which involved a lot of partying at home. As a result, she rented a room in another part of Mitchell’s Plain. In this new house, Tarryn was taking care of herself financially, thanks to the disability grant and some extra income from remunerated training. The only domestic chore that she was not performing was the laundry, because the washing machine was installed on the first floor, and it was only accessible by the stairs. Two years after Tarryn moved in, her landlord suffered a stroke. Being physically limited as a consequence of her injury, the landlord asked Tarryn to move out so she could occupy the room on the ground floor. After some hesitation, Tarryn returned to her father’s house, where she took back her previous duties, as well as paying rent. Thanks to remunerated training, which started in September 2015, Tarryn also saved money for her niece’s school fees. Although Tarryn stopped the training in January 2016, due to transport problems, she used her free time to look after her stepsister’s baby, Bryan, while his mother took an administrative job in a nearby school. This arrangement lasted until Bryan reached the age when he could attend nursery school. In September 2016, some health problems prevented Tarryn from undertaking new training. Her condition progressively worsened and the young woman needed various hospitalisations, until her death in May 2017. Firstly, Tarryn’s story shows the dynamic dimension of residential arrangements in Mitchell’s Plain, and it warns us about seeing people with locomotor disabilities as being immobile or necessarily ‘stuck’. While looking back at her residential itinerary, the young woman described herself as a gypsy, always on the move. Secondly, this example portrays a difference between the treatment of Tarryn and her stepsister, although they both lived with their father: the former paid rent, but the latter did not. As Tarryn received a fixed amount of money every month, she could (and had to) contribute to the household expenses. On the contrary, her

Responsibilities in the Context of Locomotor Disability


stepsister, who was unemployed most of the time, relied on their father’s support. Financial responsibilities towards relatives and housemates are not predetermined; they depend on every person’s income. Everyone contributes, depending on what they have (Gollas 2003). In this context, the inclusion of a person with a disability whose condition is officially recognised becomes a strategy through which the head of the household can expand the resources of his residential group. Indeed, even when they don’t pay rent, people with disabilities in Mitchell’s Plain contribute to the household expenses, through food purchases or by paying for the television licence, for example. More generally, this case study illustrates that living together reinforces household members’ responsibilities towards one another. This logic is particularly important to understand in South Africa, where approximately 25% of the working population are officially unemployed. In this context, Stephan Klasen and Ingrid Woolard (2008) identify accommodation as a tactic that is used by unemployed people to strengthen their relationships with their relatives or friends who work. People who receive social grants are targeted in the same way (Mosoetsa 2011), including those with disabilities. These redistributive practices are so widespread that some people try to hide the fact that they receive a disability grant in order to avoid their relatives’ financial requests (Kelly 2012). However, if being part of the same household strengthens interpersonal responsibilities, it can conversely be used to undermine those same expectations. In Tarryn’s case, moving to another house cancelled any financial claims from her father and the rest of the family. She was financially independent, for better or for worse. As a result, the management of social grants in South Africa often creates family suspicions and tensions, especially when the beneficiary’s ability to decide is contested, for instance, when old people, children, or adults with mental disorders are involved. We see here that variegated forms of responsibility can support and reinforce each other: the responsibility taken by the South African state to provide some social security, but in a limited way, strengthens specific kinds of redistributive expectations among relatives. Yet, the current literature on family solidarity and household fluidity in South Africa often focuses on individual survival strategies in the face of unemployment and, as such, it fails to expand its discussion beyond the financial dimension of these relationships (Barhë 2007; Harper and Seekings 2010; Klasen and Woolard 2008; Nève and du Toit 2012; Seekings 2008). Living together not only allows people to claim a share of one’s income; it also creates a myriad of impactful actions of care. Tarryn’s help with raising her sisters’ children allows the two able-bodied women to leave their house and to start working. Nonetheless, Tarryn’s example should not


Marie Schnitzler

overshadow the economic and social costs that disability can represent for some households. In a family with fewer resources, reciprocal responsibilities are more difficult to negotiate. The two following case studies give a very different picture of the experience of locomotor disability in Mitchell’s Plain and its impact on family life.

Case Study 2: Chris A young coloured man in his twenties, Chris was epileptic and lived with his grandmother in Mitchell’s Plain. His mother, Maria, worked in town and rented a shack closer to the centre. After Chris’s accident, which led to the amputation of his left calf and arm, as well as the ablation of a few fingers on his right hand, Maria visited him almost every day in hospital and she lost her job as a result. Unemployed, she and Chris moved in with Maria’s sister in Mitchell’s Plain. Soon, the young man’s behaviour created tensions in the household: he was stealing from his mother to purchase alcohol and drugs. After a few months, his aunt asked him to leave. Without income, Maria couldn’t pay for Chris’s accommodation and had to beg their neighbours to accept her son under their roof for one or two nights. At this point, Chris and Maria depended totally on Chris’s disability grant for their daily expenses, as Maria’s sister offered her accommodation, but no food. When I met Chris and Maria during a visit with their social worker, Maria explained that Chris had recently lost his ID and his SASSA Card, which are required in order to withdraw the disability grant.4 To get a new SASSA Card, Chris needed his ID, and Maria borrowed money to replace it. At the Department of Home Affairs in Mitchell’s Plain, the mother and son were told that the loss of Chris’s fingers did not allow them to order a new ID at this facility: they needed to apply to the main office in town. Maria had to borrow some more money for their taxi fare, and she started to sell some of her clothes to cover their living expenses. In contrast to the previous case, Chris’s story is characterised by the young man’s growing vulnerability, as he ‘conjugate[s] work precariousness and the fragility of close support’ (Castel 1995: 13). In South Africa, the existence of social grants prevents, or slows down, the progressive dislocation of social relationships for poor families in cases where there are medical problems, a phenomenon that has been observed elsewhere on the continent (Diallo 2003). To put it differently, the South African social policy of support, materialised through direct payments to people with disabilities, facilitates the enactment of family responsibilities in a situation of disability. However, this dynamic has its limitations, as impairment remains an economic challenge for some families: e.g. due to

Responsibilities in the Context of Locomotor Disability


her visits to the hospital, Maria lost her job and became dependent on her sister. Chris’s vulnerability thus progressively spread to her. In regard to the young man’s support, some other relatives (Chris’s grandmother and aunt) withdrew their support, despite the receipt of the grant. Without referring to any financial matter, these women shared their moral concern: they criticised Chris for his behaviour, both before and after his disability. He was drinking and using drugs before the accident, and he kept doing so afterwards. The form of redemption that was expected after the injury did not happen. Chris’s relatives therefore justified his exclusion based on a common principle in the Cape Flats, the idea of respectability (ordentlikheid in Afrikaans) (see Jensen 2008; Salo 2003; Ross 2010). The solution they required in order to keep their respectability intact was, then, to distance themselves from Chris and his condemned actions. We see here the similarities with Section 2: people with disabilities are asked to behave in a correct, responsible and respectable way, and to renounce their noxious habits. Failing to meet these requirements not only means being badly judged but can also cause social penalties and loss of support. This moral element was also a concern for Maria. According to her, Chris had stopped using these substances during his hospitalisation and so she couldn’t understand the reasons that drove him back to his previous lifestyle. Maria found herself stuck between the need to be financially independent, the social norms that enjoin a mother to take care of her child, and her responsibilities as a guest towards her sister. She managed this tension by respecting her sister’s wishes and calling on her son to live a more respectable life: to stop the alcohol and the drug abuse, to wash himself more often, to stop lying, etc. These requests allow Maria to reassert her own respectability before her son’s behaviour, while still trying to provide for them both. The responsibilities in a family and a household can be perceived very differently by their various members. The third and last case further exemplifies these discrepancies between household members.

Case Study 3: Auntie Maargie Auntie Maargie, a coloured woman in her sixties, lived in a flat with her sixteen-year-old daughter, Gladys, and her son, Manuel, who was thirty years old. Auntie Maargie became disabled after she fell from her balcony on the third floor and broke her spinal cord. Since the accident, Gladys has had to quit school to look after her mother, while her brother has spent most of his time outside the house. According to Auntie Maargie, Manuel was only coming back home to eat or to steal from her


Marie Schnitzler

pension – an equivalent to the disability grant for people who are 65 or older – in order to buy his drugs. This situation created financial problems for the two women. Furthermore, due to the absence of an elevator, Auntie Maargie couldn’t go out of her flat without her son carrying her down the stairs. Manuel was also needed to turn Auntie Maargie in her bed to prevent bed sores, since this physical task was too difficult for Gladys. Although the young man performed these actions when he was at home, his repeated absences caused missed medical appointments and the development of severe bed sores. The last time I had news from Auntie Maargie, through a common friend, she had been hospitalised to treat the necrosis. Since Auntie Maargie’s divorce, the responsibility of caring for her had fallen on her two children. Yet, care is usually gendered and Gladys found herself ‘trapped’ in this relationship after her brother deserted their home. This pressure on women to take care of their relatives, associated with Manuel’s behaviour, led to Gladys’s de-schooling, to financial issues, to Auntie Maargie’s sequestration and to the degradation of her health. However, this story tells us more about family responsibilities in South Africa than about their gendered dimensions and the possible outcomes of relatives’ desertion. Manuel was not so much avoiding his responsibilities as negotiating them by developing his own alternative definition of solidarity, including demands and acts of care. This situation relates to the reluctant solidarity that is described by Erik Bärhe. With this concept, the Dutch writer refuses to oppose conflict and solidarity. On the contrary, he states that Conflict is part of solidarity. Solidarity is not opposed to conflict, nor does conflict necessarily take place outside of the realm of solidarity. Instead, rivalry, conflict, jealousy, and aggression can be at the heart of solidarity networks. … After all, solidarity is the conflict about the parameters of inclusion. (2007: 52)

Erik Bärhe shows that there is no support or help without the possibilities of tensions around these practices, and that care can also be managed through violence or crimes. However, while Bärhe mostly studies money transfers inside the family, Auntie Maargie’s story reminds us that these financial transactions take place within other networks of help and responsibilities and, as a result, should not be studied separately. In this context, violence offers an alternative way to exert one’s perceived rights (Bärhe 2007; Bouju and de Bruijn 2014) and Manuel’s abuses do not prevent acts of care. He did help his mother from time to time, and the sporadic dimension of this support should not deny its existence: it constitutes a counterpart that further complicates the household relationships.

Responsibilities in the Context of Locomotor Disability


Conclusion The first objective of this chapter was to offer a contextualised ethnography of networks of responsibilities as experienced by people with disabilities in a South African township, Mitchell’s Plain. While doing so, many aspects of what we can call today a ‘regime of responsibility’ were documented. Three levels of analysis have been detailed: the state, the individual and the family. I will here underline the transformations that are revealed by this entering into the concept of responsibility in the South African context. The growing reference to responsibility and accountability in South African social policies relating to disability illustrates that the body remains a space in which power is exercised. However, the nature of this power has evolved since the beginning of the 1990s. Due to the influence of the international movement for the rights of people with disabilities, the disabled body has become more and more a means for demands, a tool through which to remind the state of its responsibilities. The National Disability Machinery illustrates this process, since it aims to create a space in which the state and its representatives will become more accountable. The actual liberalisation of South African policies must therefore be nuanced and would benefit from an analysis that focuses on its hybridisation. The historic social welfare system, put in place under apartheid, which combines social grants and public employment programmes, remains hand in hand with policies of empowerment and social participation. However, the extension of the number of beneficiaries after 1994 has diminished the individual impacts of the redistributive public plans, creating frustrations and disenchantment in the townships, where the population is more and more called upon to be responsible and autonomous, i.e. to find its own solution. In this context, the development of body policies offers public support, together with some financial stability, to people with disabilities, while both elements are denied to their counterparts. This difference in resources leads to some expectations of redistribution in the family that partly challenge individual autonomy. The experience of people with disabilities shows the importance of solidarity within and outside households, and practices that diminish the impact of unemployment. In a context in which the plurality of norms is increasing, new tactics are put in place to demand a share of the resources and, inversely, to preserve one’s means in the face of these requests. However, in the case of people with disability, living alone is also a way to prove their independence. These individual practices play a part in the current flexibility of residential arrangements, which must not be understood as


Marie Schnitzler

the disappearance of social relationships but, rather, as a result of growing tactics to multiply, to select, or to negotiate inter-individual responsibilities. In the process, new sources of conflict, suspicion, or blame assignation, appear within the household and the community, forming a breeding ground for ordinary violence. The idea and the practices of belonging are thus reshaped, an idea that is central to the notion of inclusion. Marie Schnitzler is an anthropologist and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Laboratory of Sociological Research and Studies (LABERS) in Brest (France). Her PhD thesis defended in 2017 at the University of Liege (Belgium) offers an ethnographic perspective on the ordinary life of people with disabilities in a Coloured township of South Africa. Her current work questions the experience of ageing for people with disabilities living in Brittany. More generally, her research topics include issues around disability, family configurations, health and social policies.

Notes  1. The word ‘Coloured’ refers to one of the four racial categories established in South Africa by the Population Registration Act of 1950. These races were at the core of the segregation put in place by the Apartheid state. The heterogeneous group of coloured people originally comprises the heirs of the Cape population (the Khoisans) and of the former slaves. The other racial categories were White, Indian/Asian and Black. Today, these categories are still used in South Africa as subjective identities and for official statistics.  2. The Group Area Act is one of the most well-known pieces of apartheid legislation, which systemised racial segregation in settlements and housing.  3. Other criteria of eligibility include being between eighteen and sixty-five years of age, being a South African citizen, a permanent resident or a refugee in South Africa, and not being cared for in a state institution.  4. Since 2009, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has put in place a biometric system for the payment of social grants.

Responsibilities in the Context of Locomotor Disability


References Bähre, E. 2007. ‘Reluctant Solidarity: Death, Urban Poverty and Neighbourly Assistance in South Africa’. Ethnography 8(1): 33–59. Brown, J. 2015. South Africa’s Insurgent Citizens: On Dissidents and the Possibilities of Politics. London: Zed Books. Bouju, J., and M. de Bruijn. 2014. ‘Introduction: Ordinary Violence in Urban Africa. An Insight in the Ongoing Social Change Process’, in J. Bouju and M. de Bruijn Mirjam (eds), Ordinary Violence and Social Change in Africa. Leiden: Brill Publishers, pp. 1–10. Castel, R. 1999 [1995]. Les Métamorphoses de la Question Sociale: Une Chronique du Salariat. Paris: Folio. City of Cape Town. 2013. 2011 Census Suburb Mitchell’s Plain. Retrieved on 13 April 2014 from Department of Social Development. 2015 (9 December). White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Retrieved on 22 November 2016 from http://www. Diallo, Y. 2003. ‘Pauvreté et Maladie’, in Y. Jaffré, J.-P. Olivier de Sardan (eds), Une Médecine inhospitalière: Les Difficiles Relations entre Soignants et Soignés dans cinq Capitales d’Afrique de l’Ouest. Paris: Karthala, pp. 157–216. Dube, A. 2005. ‘The Role and Effectiveness of Disability Legislation in South Africa’. Disability Knowledge and Research Programme, Report. Franssen, A. 2006. ‘L’État Social Actif et la Nouvelle Fabrique du Sujet’, in I. Astier and N. Duvoux (eds), La Société Biographique: Une Injonction à Vivre Dignement. Paris: L’Harmattan, pp. 75–104. Goffman, E. 1963. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc.  . 1968. Asiles: Études sur la Condition Sociale des Malades Mentaux. Paris: Minuit. Gollas, S. 2003. ‘Maisonnée et Cause Commune: Une Prise en Charge Familiale’, in F. Weber, S. Gojard, A. Gramain (eds), Charges de Famille: Dépendance et Parenté dans la France Contemporaine. Paris: La découverte, pp. 274–311. Gqola, P.D. 2015. Rape: A South African Nightmare. Auckland Park: MFBooks Johannesburg. Hanass-Hancock, J. 2009. The Invisible Nation of Disability in the Context of HIV/ AIDS in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Saarbrücken: Sudwestdeutscher Verlag für Hochschulschriften. Harper, S., and J. Seekings. 2010. Claims on and Obligations to Kin in Cape Town, South Africa. Working paper n° 272, Centre for Social Sciences Research, University of Cape Town. Heap, M., T. Lorenzo and J. Thomas. 2009. ‘“We’ve Moved Away from Disability as a Health Issue, it’s a Human Rights Issue”: Reflecting on 10 Years of the Right to Equality in South Africa’. Disability & Society 24(7): 857–868. Howell C., S. Chalklen and T. Alberts. 2006. ‘A History of the Disability Rights Movement in South Africa’, in B. Watermeyer, L. Swartz, T. Lorenzo, M. Schneider and M. Priestley (eds), Disability and Social Changes: A South African Agenda. Cape Town: HRSC Press, pp. 46–84.


Marie Schnitzler

Hundt, G.L., M. Stuttaford and B. Ngoma. 2004. ‘The Social Diagnostics of Stroke-like Symptoms: Healers, Doctors and Prophets in Agincourt, Limpopo Province, South Africa’. Journal of Biosocial Science 36(4): 433–443. Jensen, S. 2008. Gangs, Politics and Dignity in Cape Town. Oxford: James Currey. Jewkes, R., Y. Sikweyiya, R. Morrell and K. Dunkle. 2009. ‘Understanding Men’s Health and the Use of Violence: Interface of Rape and HIV in South Africa’. Retrieved on 6 June 2018 from interfaceofrape&hivsarpt.pdf. Joseph, C. 2016. Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury in South Africa and Sweden: Epidemiological Features and Functioning. Thesis in physiotherapy, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden. Kelly, G. 2012. Biological Citizenship in Blikkiesdorp: The Case of the Disability Grant. Master’s Thesis in Social Science Methods, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Stellenbosch. Klasen, S., and I. Woolard. 2008. ‘Surviving Unemployment without State Support: Unemployment and Household Formation in South Africa’. Journal of African Economies 18(1): 1–51. Miller, P., and N. Rose. 2008. Governing the Present: Administering Economic, Social and Personal Life. Malden: Polity. Miraftab, F. 2004a. ‘Making Neo-liberal Governance: The Disempowering Work of Empowerment’. International Planning Studies 9(4): 239–259.  . 2004b. ‘Invited and Invented Spaces of Participation: Neoliberal Citizenship and Feminists’ Expanded Notions of Politics’, Wagadu Journal of Transnational Women’s and Gender Studies. Retrieved on 24 March 2016 from Mosoetsa, S. 2011. Eating from One Pot: The Dynamics of Survival in Poor South African Households. Johannesburg: Wits University Press. Neves, D., and A. du Toit. 2012. ‘Money and Sociality in South Africa’s Informal Economy’. Africa 82(1): 131–49. Office of the Premier. 2002 (November). Integrated Provincial Disability Strategy. Western Cape. Retrieved on 21 October 2013 from https://www.westerncape. Pieterse, E. 2008. ‘Empowerment’, in N. Shepherd and S. Robins (eds), New South African Keywords. Athens and Auckland Park: Ohio University Press and Jacana Media, pp. 69–78. Rose, N. 1996. ‘The Death of the Social? Re-figuring the Territory of Government’. Economy and Society 25(3): 327–356. Ross, F. 2010. Raw Life, New Hopes: Decency, Housing and Everyday Life in a PostApartheid Community. Claremont: UCT Press. Salo, E. 2003. ‘Negotiating Gender and Personhood in the New South Africa: Adolescent Women and Gangsters in Manenberg Township in the Cape Flats’. European Journal of Cultural Studies 6(3): 345–365. Scheper-Hughes, N. 2007. ‘Violence and the Politics of Remorse: Lessons from South Africa, in J. Biehl, G. Guilherme, B. Good and A. Kleinman (eds), Subjectivity: Ethnographic Investigations. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, pp. 179–233.

Responsibilities in the Context of Locomotor Disability


Seekings, J. 2008. Beyond ‘Fluidity’: Kinship and Households as Social Project. Working paper n° 237, Centre for Social Sciences Research, University of Cape Town. Trnka, S., and C. Trundle (eds). 2017. Competing Responsibilities: The Ethics and Politics of Contemporary Life. Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press. Vidal-Naquet, P. 2009. ‘Quels Changements dans les Politiques Sociales Aujourd’hui? Le Projet entre Injonction et Inconditionnalité’. La Nouvelle Revue de l’Adaptation et de la Scolarisation 47(3): 61–76. Watermeyer, B. 2013. ‘Silencing Lives of Struggle: How Disabled People in South Africa Have Sacrificed the Politics of Protest’, DailyMaverick, 19 September. Retrieved on 16 June 2016 from opinionista/2013-09-19-silencing-lives-of-struggle-how-disabled-peoplesouth-africa-has-sacrificed-the-politics-of-protest/#.VYbH_Hf_2fs. Watermeyer, B., L. Swartz, T. Lorenzo, M. Schneider and M. Priestley (eds). 2006. Disability and Social Changes: A South African Agenda. Cape Town: HSRC Press.

Chapter 7

Diverting Makila Mabe

Understanding Responsibility in Kinshasa’s Pentecostal Worlds Katrien Pype


his chapter deals with the imagination of ‘responsibility’ and its bearings on social relations within the scene of Kinshasa’s Pentecostal– Charismatic Christians. As the editors of this introduction (Rubbers and Jedlowski, this volume) highlight, ‘responsibility’ has many polysemic dimensions, which draw on various philosophical and religious traditions ‘that do not communicate easily with each other’. The Oxford English dictionary (OED)1 offers four different meanings for ‘responsibility’: 1. Capability of fulfilling an obligation or duty; the quality of being reliable or trustworthy; 2. (in relation to claims) the state or fact of being accountable, the cause or originator of something; 3. The fact of having a duty to do something; a burden, task or assignment for which one is responsible; and a moral obligation to behave correctly towards or in respect of a person or thing; 4. A person in authority.

In Kinshasa, ‘responsibility’ is mainly reduced to the OED’s fourth meaning: leadership, as evidenced by a Lingala-Falansé/Français-Lingala dictionary (Kawata 2002). Here, ‘responsabilité’ is translated into Lingala as ‘1. Bonkolo, eboko mokumba, bokonzi; 2. Position of responsibility: ebonga’ (Kawata 2002: 504). Knowledge of what each of these different Lingala words mean on their own helps us to understand the contours of the semantic field of ‘responsabilité’ as it is imagined and lived in Kinshasa. The first Lingala word, bonkolo, derives from the verb kokola, which means ‘to grow up’. As such ‘responsibility’ is a modality of someone who has matured. The concepts of eboko and mokumba mean ‘charge, load, burden’, while bokonzi references leadership, command and authority. A

Understanding Responsibility in Kinshasa’s Pentecostal Worlds


responsable (in French), or a mokani, mokonzi and moyamboli in Lingala, is someone who takes the lead, decides (for others) and takes the initiative. Being a ‘responsable’ (French) in this sense is the culmination of social adulthood. In Pentecostal–Charismatic circles, however, and testifying to the above-mentioned different origins of the meanings the concept of ‘responsibility’ has acquired through time, ‘responsibility’ is mainly discussed in terms of the OED’s first two meanings: a Christian is ‘responsible’ for her own spiritual safety as this also impacts the wider social environment. In the following, I unpack this Christian understanding of an individual’s responsibility and look in particular at the various rituals that are put in place in order to manage this accountability. Let me introduce this Pentecostal interpretation of responsibility by describing a debate about the assignment of accountability within a marital context in Kinshasa. Here, responsibility is ascribed to an agent, an actor who might intentionally (or not) be at the origin of her own and/or others’ predicament. The young couple Jeannot2 and Jolie have been living through economic uncertainties ever since they became a couple, now seven years ago, i.e. in 2011. Trained as an electric engineer and originating from a small city in the province of Central Kongo, Jeannot met Jolie in the Pentecostal church of the community of Lemba (in Kinshasa), where both were living. While their marriage had all the required blessings, from the various lineages, from the church and from the state, Jeannot never really found a job. He managed to work as an unpaid intern at one of the city’s cellular companies for several years, surviving on primes (premiums). Unfortunately, the internship position was never transformed into a full job. After that, he became a personal chauffeur for a politician, through which he met the boss of a local company setting up electricity infrastructure in the interior of the country. For two years, Jeannot has been working with this company but never got his share. His mother-in-law confided to me that there is something wrong with Jeannot. Her suspicions had been raised especially since two new engineers had started in the same company after Jeannot had begun working there, and they had already received a contract while Jeannot was still a temp. According to Jeannot’s mother-in-law, the reasons that his colleagues do get paid while Jeannot never, are located in the spiritual sphere. Bibiche, one of Jolie’s childhood friends reflected as well on the financial problems Jolie is experiencing as these have inevitably led to marital discord. Bibiche learned from Jolie that Jeannot blames this situation on Jolie’s pre-marital sexual life. Jolie had confessed about her sexual life before entering in matrimony with Jeannot. So, she had informed him that she had been the girlfriend for years of two married men, and


Katrien Pype

had aborted a few pregnancies during these relationships. According to Jeannot, Jolie brings him ‘bad luck’ due to her ‘sinful’ pre-marital life. From her side, Jolie, who started working as a state employee two years ago, but also is not yet paid, regretted that Jeannot started smoking and drinking alcohol again, habits which he had given up during their engagement. She also suspected that he was cheating on her. All these immoral practices – so Jolie argues, have contributed to the marital problems. In February 2018, the couple had not been able to pay the monthly rent of their two-room house. By June 2018, the warranty had been fully consumed by these months, and, at the time of writing this chapter, they were faced with the threat of evictions. Bibiche did not tire of advising Jolie to pray, to find consolation in prayer. That is all Jolie could do, Bibiche argued. Jolie was – according to Bibiche, not in a position to tell her husband to look for another, paid job, or to stop seeing other women. That is not how a woman can interact with her husband. Jolie’s only option was church. Jolie’s mother started making plans to host Jolie and her two children once they would get evicted. Due to customary rules of avoidance, Jeannot cannot live in the same house as his mother-in-law. She hoped that he could travel abroad, and then Jolie would be able to live on her own, and in her ways. Disputes within the couple had been going on for so many months now, Jeannot disrespecting her wife, stealing money from her bag, and insulting her. At various instances already, Jolie had packed up her belongings, and Jolie’s mother was often called in to mediate in the couple pushing Jolie’s mother to pray for Jeannot’s migration. All in all, in our conversations and in her talks with Jolie, Jolie’s mother referenced ‘these Nollywood films’, ‘it is like in these films de nigéria’, and argued that the origin of Jeannot’s economic bad weather needed to be found in Jeannot’s village. ‘There must be something there that is tying him’, Jolie’s mother said. She mused that if she had known Jeannot was a member of the Yansi-lineage, she would never have accepted the marriage, even though Jolie had suddenly been pregnant, and a marriage had been the only option to guarantee a respectable future for her daughter. Jeannot’s case is an example of suspicion of makila mabe, literally Lingala for ‘bad blood’. A synonym is malchanceux, someone with ‘bad luck’. Having makila mabe references a spiritual condition in which the person’s soul is not blessed. People who have wasted their life by making wrong, incomprehensible decisions, or who seem to attract bad luck, and are unfortunate in whatever they undertake, are commonly defined as ‘having makila mabe’. One of my interlocutors said: ‘someone with makila mabe does not have any good prospects. Everything fails on them. Even birds will drop their poop on them’. People with makila mabe are

Understanding Responsibility in Kinshasa’s Pentecostal Worlds


cursed; their souls are tied to occult spirits, and spiritual and social efforts are required to block the chains of the malediction. In particular, it is assumed that des malchanceux need to look for divine blessings in order to advance in their job, business, purchase of land and in their material and social well-being in general. In this case study, which resembles very much the ‘forensic approach’ described in the introduction to this book (Rubbers and Jedlowski, this volume), Jeannot’s economic difficulties are interpreted by four different people in different ways, and responsibility is not assigned in a straightforward way: Jeannot located it in his wife’s social life in the past; his mother-in-law pointed at ethnic heritage governing his matrimony and economic life; his wife looked at his current wanderings, which she deemed sinful; and Bibiche, silent about responsibility, saw Jolie’s spiritual reinforcement through prayer as the only way out. The main question asked in this chapter is: how does a Pentecostal understanding of responsibility relate to notions of personhood and sociality? As such, my chapter contributes to the questions asked in the introduction to this volume by paying attention to the role of the politics of responsibility in subjectivation processes as played out in Kinshasa’s Pentecostal circles. As such, the chapter provides a case study of the regime of responsibility as carried out in one particular, though dominant sphere of Kinshasa’s society, the Pentecostal–Charismatic world. Following the challenge as voiced by the editors in the introduction of this volume, such an approach will allow me ‘to go beyond the narrow conception of the individual that is implicit in neoliberal governmentality in order to give serious consideration to the processes by which the practices and discourses of responsibility create their “own distinctive kinds of interconnectedness” (Laidlaw 2013: 201)’ (Rubbers and Jedlowski, this volume). I draw on observations in church groups, interviews with Pentecostal subjects and evangelizers, and an analysis of Pentecostal popular culture, especially my research with CINARC, an evangelizing television acting company in Kinshasa. The drama group is intimately tied to an église de réveil (Church of the Awakening), which is a subgroup of the Pentecostal-Charismatic scene in Kinshasa. Therefore, I will use the labels ‘Pentecostal-Charismatic’ and ‘Born-Again’ as synonyms. Fieldwork in Kinshasa has been ongoing since 2003. Here, I mainly work with material collected during participant-observation with the CINARC troupe (2003–2006) and follow-up interviews (2017 and 2018). The main argument of this chapter is that responsibility within the Pentecostal community is allocated to both external agents and to the individual, yet in differentiated ways. The process of the ‘moral


Katrien Pype

movement’ (Fernandez 1979) one makes in order to become a Christian subject is here crucial in ‘becoming responsible’. This implies taking up one’s responsibilities, accepting one’s accountability for her own and others’ predicament and acting upon it. The material provides a perfect illustration of what this volume’s editors have identified as one of the major analytical tasks scholars have: to show how African subjects are ‘moral agents acting within the complex web of the regimes of responsibility that are at play today on the continent’ (Rubbers and Jedlowski, this volume). Individuals are embedded within various webs of relationships: they have ties of commitment, accountability and obligation towards their kin, the state and the religious community. In a Pentecostal discourse, as will become clear, responsibility then relates to making choices in one’s social world, choosing with whom to socialize and in particular choosing Christians in one’s social environment. This selection, which translates into a purifying and even simplifying of the webs of involvement, depends on an awareness of others’ social lifeworlds, an awareness of these other’s personal pasts, and one’s intention and readiness to submit to the Holy Spirit. The production of this awareness draws on various techniques of subjectivation that are central to the Pentecostal world. I first discuss these techniques and the influence of external actors on one’s social and spiritual well-being. Then I move on to the role of confessions, soul healing and deliverance rituals in the construction of responsible, Christian subjects. Finally, I explore the depiction of accountability and the moral movement in one of CINARC’s evangelizing television serials, Dilemma (produced and broadcast on a weekly basis during June–September 2005 on a local TV station), in order to show how the Pentecostal understanding of responsibility also steers practices of punishment and resolution.

Agency and Morality Prayer has been identified by Bibiche as one of the techniques that Jolie – Jeannot’s wife – should mobilize in order to overturn their predicament. Crucial questions to ask are: why prayer? And, why would Jolie’s prayers have an effect on Jeannot’s life? Or, how could Jolie’s spiritual activity contribute to a transformation of her husband’s situation? Prayer constitutes one of the array of techniques of the self (Foucault 1988)3 that produce ‘subjects of God’ and that are promoted in Pentecostal churches. The techniques of the self impact personal public appearance, body care, thoughts and self-perception (see Bayart 1998; Marshall-Fratani and Péclard 2002: 9). These techniques require considerable investment from

Understanding Responsibility in Kinshasa’s Pentecostal Worlds


the person involved, which at first glance gives the impression of emphasizing the conscience and agency of subjects over their own rights, duties and obligations as born-again Christians. To a certain extent, these techniques could be related to the Protestant understanding of the individual as an autonomous and self-responsible unit. Kinshasa’s Pentecostals also attach much importance to the contribution of social and spiritual Others when it comes to defining and producing the subject. Given the constant intervention of otherworldly spirits in the lives of Christians and nonChristians, it is difficult to accept the image of the self-governing subject in this context. Christian discourse in Kinshasa has it that good and evil are external sources that come to nest within the person. This is shown most spectacularly in the healing moments in the churches where evil spirits are chased out. During moments of ‘being with evil spirits’ (kozala na badémons), the possessed bodies give voice to the spirit(s) that inhabit(s) them. Spiritual leaders frequently engage in conversation with this/these spirit/s in order to identify the degree of possession, the origin of the possession and any evil acts that may already have been performed. In deliverance rituals, the spirits’ discourse is standardized. As soon as the possessed person falls down and begins to shiver like a snake, the spirit cries out, saying, ‘this is my body. This is my house. I will not leave this body’. In the ensuing dialogue with the spirits, the spiritual leaders repeatedly invoke the name of Jesus and so drive out the evil spirits. The people surrounding the possessed and the healer(s) also break into loud, fervent prayer, for they need to protect their own souls from being possessed by the now homeless spirits. The exact effect of the external powers struck me most when listening to Jef’s account of the first fictional character the evangelizing television actor, Julien, ever performed: I was a financial director of an enterprise and married to Deborah. My parents came from the village to Kinshasa with my little sister. I had no idea that they were witches. They began to tell Deborah that I had another woman. You know, with witches, it always happens like that. I was seduced. As I was not really a Christian, I could be seduced. I had a so-called friend who invited me to bars. This man led me into errors. I have done many immoral things. I spent the night in bars, and slept with other women, even with prostitutes. The witches know how to direct people and make you do things that are not good. During my time of erring, they prepared me to end in the cooking pot. Luckily, my wife prayed a lot. That is how I was saved in the end.

In Jef’s account, the absence of any individual agency on the part of his fictional alter ego (Julien) is significant in our discussion of the Christian


Katrien Pype

subject and her responsibility. Julien is portrayed as a victim without any will or intentionality, and witches are held responsible for his erring and immorality. Even Julien’s sexual acts with other women are not interpreted as the result of desire or lust but rather as the outcome of an absence of any Christian spiritual stronghold. In the end, it is his wife’s spiritual work that mediates between her sinful husband and the divine, ultimately saving Julien. How must we make sense of the emphasis in Pentecostal discourse on one’s moral movement when the agency of evil spirits and higher powers like God and the Devil is taken for granted? To what extent is the Christian subject a self-governing person? And what is the role of Jolie/ Jef’s wife in all of this? In the discourse of Pentecostal Christians, a tension is consistently manifested between impersonal agents (demons and Satan), personal agents (the whole range of witches and their victims), and the individual’s self-rule. Pastors state that God inspires all good things, sends people to earth, and decides when to take their souls back. At the same time, born-again Christians contend, ‘salvation is individual’. People themselves must be conscious of their acts and take full responsibility for their decisions. A secular bias may comprehend all these statements and beliefs as discordant. For Kinshasa’s Pentecostal Christians, however, the notions of an individual’s autonomy (to walk the ‘right road’, ‘nzela malamu’) and the limitation of his or her self-rule by higher invisible forces are not perceived as contradicting each other. Christians argue that only people who connect with God are totally free, and that Jesus ‘frees’ people (abikisi bato). The choice to deliver oneself to the Christian god does not at all limit one’s freedom and self-rule. To be governed by the Holy Spirit means to control one’s own passions and actions and achieve one’s release from sorcerers, witches and demons. This freedom is accordingly considered in spiritual terms. For the Pentecostals, voluntary submission to the Holy Spirit does not contradict the sense of autonomy. In sum, it should especially be noted that although God and the Devil are imagined as governing the world, human beings are not presented as mere puppets of those actors. This point comes to the fore in understanding explanations of man’s destiny (ndaka). Sermons continuously repeat that God has a destiny (mukano ya Nzambe) for each person. This destiny is hidden and only revealed when one prays to God. It is taken for granted that God only wants good things for humans: he wants his people to be healthy, to have a family, and to prosper. To realize this potentiality, a person should consciously choose to take Jesus’s path. Here resides the autonomy and the agency of the human being: a man or woman has responsibility for his or her own life and thus can influence whether or not God’s plan will be realized.

Understanding Responsibility in Kinshasa’s Pentecostal Worlds


The question of ‘destiny’ ties in with the Pentecostal interpretation of makila mabe (literally ‘bad blood’), which as I describe in the introduction to this chapter should be interpreted as ‘bad luck’. In Pentecostal thought, everybody is born with a star (nyota), a part of one’s invisible double, which visualizes the good future every Christian is promised by God. The brighter the star shines, the better one’s life will be in terms of success, health, social progress etc. As Pentecostalism holds that God wants all of his children to prosper, it is assumed that every Christian should have a bright star. ‘Bad luck’ then is often voiced as having a ‘dark star’. One’s star can have been blackened or can have lost its shine due to other people’s spiritual interventions, or because of one’s own unchristian walk of life. ‘Chance’ or ‘luck’ then are not the outcome of hazard, speculation, risk, or even coincidence, uncontrollable events or gambling. Rather ‘chance’ and ‘luck’ are defined by the Christian God, awarded to any Christian, and – according to Pentecostal thought – it is part of a Christian’s responsibility to ensure that her chance or luck is protected, appreciated, embraced, treasured and valued. Various individual and social actors can, however, take away the glow of one’s star, can divert one from achieving one’s chance. Nobody suspects that Jeannot (from the introductory case) is not a Christian, though his route has diverted from the good life promised to a child of God. Various causes are mentioned as having turned his luck into makila mabe: either Yansi tradition (according to Jeannot’s mother-in-law), his wife’s pre-marital sexual wanderings (according to Jeannot himself), or Jeannot’s uptake of alcohol, cigarettes and extra-marital affairs (according to Jeannot’s wife). The identification of each of these causes dislocates Jeannot’s responsibility. Indeed, the repeated stress on the interconnections between the human being, external spirits and the social environment indicates that Pentecostal Christianity does not promote a totally self-governing person. Rather, the person is interlinked with social others and via them connected with spiritual others, all of whom influence one’s well-being. The Christian person in Kinshasa is therefore to a high degree ‘dividual’. The concept of ‘dividuality’ has come to denote a mode of personhood that perceives persons as ‘relational and divisible entities’. McKim Marriott (1976) and Marilyn Strathern (1988) point out that this kind of subjectivity is antagonistic to ‘the individual’, which both authors identify as the hegemonic perception of human beings in Western societies. The strict division between ‘societies with dividuals’ and ‘societies with individuals’ has been critiqued by Edward LiPuma (1998). First, he argues that ‘the individual’ as a closed and bounded entity is merely an ideological construction that does not reflect how people in the West experience their identity. Second, and of utmost importance for the continuation


Katrien Pype

of my analysis, LiPuma points out that in all societies there exist both individual and dividual aspects of personhood (1998: 56). For born-again Christians, the ‘subject’ is defined by the spiritual qualities of the person’s double. A ‘Christian’ has a self (a soul), which is completed by ‘Christian’ social persons when he or she dwells in ‘pure’ spiritual surroundings. This subject is composed of dividual and individual aspects. ‘Christians of the flesh’, the middle category between ‘pagans’ and ‘real Christians’, are also said to have a self, though the complementing parts constitute a mixture of ‘evil’ and ‘Christian’ origin. Their dividuality is qualified by the ‘pagan’ and ‘Christian’ social milieus in which they move about. ‘Pagans’ and bewitched people are considered to lack any self because they are totally controlled by ‘impure spirits’. Kinshasa’s Pentecostals interpret ‘pagans’ as ‘animals’, living beings lacking any individuality, will of their own, or self-governance.

Moral Movement Responsibility, as a modality of the subject, can actively be managed. When techniques of the self are mobilized in order to become aware of one’s accountability, then responsibility is embodied and performed. In addition, Pentecostals emphasize a processual dimension to responsibility, which coincides with a trajectory of becoming a Christian. This scenario is phrased as a ‘moral movement’. It refers to a set of actions that a Christian should execute and a set of attitudes that a Christian needs to obtain. This ‘moral movement’ can best be explained in terms of a reconfiguration of the social and invisible components of one’s double and a revitalization of one’s autonomy. Recall that, in Jef’s account of his fictional alter ego, it was in the end the efforts of Julien’s wife that saved him; and Bibiche argued that Jolie can only take recourse to prayer. Julien then transformed from a being without a self to a person with a pure social and spiritual entourage. The Christian person in his social environment, his wife, helped bring Julien back to humanity. One’s social environment thus determines one’s spiritual health. For this reason, Pentecostal pastors do not focus on the predestination of the person as an individual but instead speak at length about the individual’s self-rule, the ability to choose what road to take, and the importance of the Christian social environment. Christians are encouraged to closely examine the religious identity of their relatives, the co-tenants in the compound, their colleagues at school or at work, their friends and others in their lifeworlds. Born-again Christians are summoned either to convert ‘pagans’, or to distance themselves from any who stubbornly refuse to become

Understanding Responsibility in Kinshasa’s Pentecostal Worlds


Christian. This often leads to strife among relatives or people living together, as ‘Christians’ and ‘non-Christians’ typically cohabit within a compound. Even within families, usually not all members are born-again Christians; some may be Catholic while others pray at revival churches, and still others do not pray at all. I observed how born-again Christians were often very harsh on neighbours, relatives and friends who did not consistently go to church, or who appeared to be ‘Christians of the flesh’. Born-again Christians often make a point of inviting their ‘pagan’ children, siblings, and friends to church. These invitations frequently turn into repeated requests to attend services, something that is taken as nagging by those who do not much feel like joining the prayer groups. Born-again Christians, however, do not like to take no for an answer and expect a good reason for any refusal. No matter what excuse a ‘pagan’ might give, it rarely suffices for an awakened Christian.

Confessions and Soul Healing Confessions contribute to the fabric of the Christian subject because these are indispensable steps in the process of ‘becoming conscious’ (kozwa mayele) and thus contribute to producing ‘responsible Christians’. Consciousness (mayele) resides in the heart and denotes intelligence and knowledge but also manners, behaviours, character and ‘spirit’. It can also mean cleverness or cunning. In the context of confessing, mayele has more to do with morality and proper social conduct. Taking Foucault’s line of interpretation of Christian technologies of the self (1988), confessions constitute the modern subject, for they trigger psychological exploration. From this point of view one can consider the confessional act on an individual level: poking around in one’s memories and constructing a story about one’s sins constitutes a particular consciousness that creates an individuality, one in which the speaker takes on responsibility for his or her actions. A related discursive ritual among Kinshasa’s Pentecostals is the soul healing (cure d’âme), which is an individual narrative usually performed when one expresses the desire to become a born-again Christian, and it precedes public confessions. The soul healing consists of one or more private sessions with a spiritual leader in which the confessee constructs a narrative about her personal life history, indicating moments of disagreement, enmity, joy, bad luck, love, sexual relationships and so on. A young prophet who frequently guides these sessions spoke about the practice in the following way: ‘at the beginning of a soul healing many people say that they do not understand how they became jealous. But


Katrien Pype

they are responsible, they were feeling the jealousy and they let it rule their lives. They opened the door. In the soul healing, they suddenly remember where and how they opened that door’. The soul healing thus has a diagnostic purpose in the sense that the causes and origins of current distress are identified. The main goal is to learn when the patient has ‘opened the door’, allowing bad spirits to enter. The assertion of not knowing when or how ‘to have opened the door’ (meaning to have introduced kindoki, occult and destructive spiritual powers) refers to the fact that one can become a sinner without being aware of it. One interesting way of analysing confessions and soul healing is inspired by Ochs and Capps (2001), two anthropologists who interpret any kind of narrative production as a performative event that constructs the person. As psychologically oriented theorists, Ochs and Capps define a subject as someone who gains a particular consciousness that is achieved through emplotment. The act of narrating is a moment in which the speaker weaves significant events into one major whole, identifies causal sequences and comprehends past events. The narrator’s condition gains its meaning as the endpoint of a string of events, which in the narrative moment are imbued with a meaning that escaped the I-character as she was experiencing them. Here, then, the act of narrating produces a new self, heals the speaker from psychological wounds and provides her with a sense of closure and the ability to embark on another narrative. The discourse of Pentecostal leaders endorses such a psychological explanation when Pastor Gervais (the leading pastor of the Church of the Holy Mountain), for example, stated that self-knowledge is the major goal of the confession. He claimed that confessions are indispensable steps in the process of ‘becoming conscious’ (kozwa mayele, ‘to obtain consciousness’), to be aware of the spiritual influence in one’s lifeworld. One can consider the confessional act to be constitutive of an autonomous individual: poking around in one’s memories and constructing a story about one’s sins constitutes a particular consciousness that creates an individuality, one in which the speaker takes on responsibility for his or her actions. In a sense, this is endorsed by linguistic evidence. The Lingala words moyambola (1. confessee, 2. responsible person) and motubisi (1. confessee, 2. person with regret) point at individuality and autonomy. Such approaches are closely related to Foucault’s analysis of the confession as a ‘technique of the self’ through which the individual attains a certain state of purity and perfection (cf. also Marshall-Fratani and Péclard 2002). In all this we must be wary of transposing a psychological meaning of consciousness to the setting of Kinshasa’s Christians. ‘Consciousness’ is a cultural variable that is historical and dynamic (cf. Lutz 1992). In

Understanding Responsibility in Kinshasa’s Pentecostal Worlds


Kinshasa, the Pentecostal churches invest a great deal of time and energy in the construction of a particular kind of self and personhood in which the very concept of consciousness is utilized and manipulated. As Pastor Gervais stated in church, ‘God has created man with mayele (a conscience). He has shown him the tree of knowledge about good and evil. But, when the Devil enters into our life, he sows a doubt. The lines between good and evil are no longer clear. He makes us doubt God’s goodness and even his existence’. The pastor’s speech immediately moved to the social environment and emphasized that when the lines between good and evil are blurred, it becomes extremely difficult to know whom one can rely on. His discourse emphasised the complexities of social trust and extrahuman actions. Repeating again and again that ‘appearances deceive’, pastors and born-again Christians alike remind each other about the existence of ‘false Christians’, people who seem trustworthy, who seem to lead a Christian life, but who have a double life in the occult demonic spheres of the world. Yet at times humans do not know that they themselves are false Christians. In the discourse of born-again Christians, there is always a manifest tension between the impersonal agents of demons and Satan, personal agents (the whole range of witches and their victims), and the individual’s self-rule. In sermons, however, although God and the Devil are said to govern the world, human beings are not presented as mere puppets of those actors. The necessity of becoming conscious is not only because one needs to know ‘when one has opened the door’ for evil spirits, but also because one needs to learn about one’s destiny (ndaka) that God has designed for her. It is frequently repeated in sermons that God has a destiny (mukano ya Nzambe) for each person. This destiny is hidden, and revealed only when one prays to God. It is taken for granted that God wants only good things for humans: He wants his people to be healthy, to have a family and to prosper. To realise this potentiality, a person should consciously choose to take Jesus’s path. Here the autonomy and the agency of the human being resides: a man or woman has responsibility for his or her own life, and thus can influence whether God’s plan will be realized or not.4 Yet the repeated emphasis on the interconnections between the human being, external spirits and one’s social environment indicates that Pentecostal Christianity does not promote a totally self-governing person. Rather, the person is interlinked with social others, and through them connected with spiritual others, all of whom influence one’s well-being. Deliverance rituals often accompany confessions. The chasing away of demonic spirits removes evil from the confessee’s soul. When being delivered and accepting Jesus’s power, the person thus takes an important step towards realising God’s plan and fulfilling God’s destiny for


Katrien Pype

her. Van Dijk points out that in allowing ‘heavenly inspiration for the decisions to be taken’ (2010: 106), personal responsibility is primary. This personal responsibility begins with choosing to ‘walk with Jesus’. In the same vein, Nieswand emphasises the ‘individual’s autonomy to act freely as the driving force of progress and salvation’ (2010: 48), which is both a significant part of the modern imaginary and of Christian ideas of conversion. Significantly, public confessions also have a bearing on the subjectivity of the listeners: with or without their awareness of it, there was an unchristian entity in their surroundings. Through the confession-cum-deliverance, the audience also purifies its spiritual and thus social environment and self. Yet the consequences of the confession and the choice to convert to Christianity are not limited to the confessee’s spiritual appurtenance. It also has strong ramifications for the listeners, and in particular for their personhood. While listening to the penitent’s narratives, the audience is reminded of the difficulties of apprehending God. Even though during the event the confessee may identify herself as responsible for certain effects, for the audience the constant possibility of spiritual pollution is confirmed. This not only limits the understanding of the individual as a self-governing person, but also emphasises how difficult it is to be a ‘real Christian’ in an apocalyptic society such as Kinshasa. Obviously, for Kinshasa’s born-again Christians one’s Christian identity and thus connection with the divine does not only depend on the person’s choice to ‘walk with Jesus’. Regardless of the amount and intensity of prayers one performs and one’s stringent adoption of various techniques of the self (as in the choice of clothes, leisure activities, or sexual behaviour), a person’s religious identity is to a large extent defined by relatives, friends and neighbours, making it extremely hard to attain the Christian self and establish a longstanding connection with the divine.

Dilemma Evangelizing television serials visualize the moral movement Christian subjects should make in order to become ‘responsible Christians’. Therefore, these visual texts allow us to gain a deeper understanding of the Pentecostal regime of responsibility. The serial Dilemma in particular opens a discussion of the allocation of responsibility and the consequences of ‘irresponsible behaviour’. The serial Dilemma initially deals with the marriage choice the protagonist Caleb faces: should he marry the young girl Monica, who he loves but whom his parents dislike, or should he follow his parents’ wish and marry Charlainne? After three episodes, a subplot takes over a thread that the CINARC leader had initially devised:

Understanding Responsibility in Kinshasa’s Pentecostal Worlds


Monica enters into an incestuous relationship with her father, Fataki. Caught in the act by the domestic servant and his other three children, Fataki kills them all. The maboke (the evangelizing television serial) closes with Fataki being arrested by a police officer and taken to prison. Monica pleads guilty to incest in front of a pastor and is exorcised. Her deliverance from the impure spirits confirms the agency of exterior maleficent powers in the misfortune of Fataki’s household. Several questions arise: Why did the drama group insert a police arrest and an exorcising ritual? And why are these two distinct technologies of restoration (sanction and purification) distributed over different protagonists? Why does Dilemma not show Fataki’s deliverance from impure spirits, for example? In contrast to other CINARC maboke, this serial does not make extensive use of special effects to visualize the possession of evil spirits, nor, for that matter, does the theme of evil spirits dominate the episodes. Only two scenes stand out in this regard. One scene depicts Fataki in his office immediately after he has murdered his children. It is shown how this successful businessman hears ‘mystical’ sounds, created by special effects that resemble the sounds of computer games (Nintendo). Ance, one of the CINARC actors, explained me that these sounds should be interpreted as signs of his murdered children and their desire to punish their father for their deaths. The CINARC leader, Bienvenu, and his cousin, Chapy, on the other hand, attributed the noises to demons that had come to possess him. Though these different understandings of the assumed intervention of spiritual agents are worth exploring further, the paucity of references to the invisible world in this serial, as a whole, is surprising. When watching copies of the episodes in Kinshasa, I assumed that Dilemma portrayed a subject responsible for her own acts and their consequences. In addition, it is one of the few telenarratives that sends an evildoer to prison. Discussions with the actors about this particular closure revealed that they did not share the same interpretation of the outcome. Serge, the actor in the role of Fataki, whose improvisation skills had significantly altered the main plot, argued that his fictive alter ego had committed a crime (bobe) and therefore had to be punished according to the law (mobeko). Since the beginning of fieldwork, I had noticed that this particular actor always seemed to take a rational approach toward the group’s work on television, and here, totally in line with the impression I already had, he focused on the murders and identified Fataki as a criminal. Furthermore, Serge did not consider evil spirits to have instigated the criminal behaviour but pointed to Fataki’s personal physical desires as the cause of the offence. Serge also sympathized with Ance’s interpretation of the


Katrien Pype

mystical sounds, defining them as reactions of the deceased children’s spirits rather than a confirmation of Fataki’s cohabitation with the dark world. Most other members of the acting company disagreed with this interpretation, however. The troupe’s leader, who was a more ardent Christian than most, gave a totally different explanation. According to him, the most important ‘bad’ act of Fataki was not the murder but the incest. He interpreted the consequent murders as a logical outcome of sinful behaviour. Bienvenu thus identified Fataki in the first instance as a sinner; his criminal identity was then only secondary to his sins. Surprisingly then, the actors somehow decided not to save Fataki from his demons but to send him to prison. According to Bienvenu, they could not allow him to be saved, because, as he argued adamantly, we need to show people that there are certain sins that cannot be redeemed. If we would say that killing can be restored through praying and converting to God, then… we need to show people that they should stop this kind of life, and show them ‘Look how you will end. You will be imprisoned and you will go to hell’. Even if we did not say so, he will go to hell.

I could not have anticipated the actors’ ultimate accusations. In their reflections on the genealogy of evil presented in this narrative, all the actors agreed that Deborah, the mother, was in fact responsible for ‘having opened a door’ to evil spirits, thus mitigating Fataki’s transgression.5 Although Deborah had not committed any sinful act, according to the CINARC actors, her encouragements to her daughters to dress in seductive clothing, thus arousing her husband and pushing him to fantasize about their daughters’ bodies, was the ultimate origin of all evil. Nene, one of the CINARC actresses, contended: ‘the Devil does not ask your permission to live with you. God does’. Referring to Apocalypse 3:20 (‘Look, here I am in front of your door and I knock. If someone hears my voice, and offers himself to me, I will be with him and he will be with me’.),6 Nene contrasted God’s distance with the Devil’s unrequested intrusion. Yet, as she reminded me, ‘in order for the Devil to succeed, someone has to give access. Monica gave access to the Devil, by way of her mother, because her mother bought her ‘bad clothes’. Due to an internal conflict, Nadine, who performed the role of Deborah, was suspended for six weeks. This seriously disrupted the filming schedule. Her character returned only in the two final episodes and did not receive much screen time. As a result, the actors’ reflections on evil did not dwell much on Deborah’s evilness. The serial instead inspired the evangelizing artists to contemplate the merits of a sanction like imprisonment and standardized Christian techniques of restoration and purification. So, when Nene talked about Deborah’s part in the spread of evil

Understanding Responsibility in Kinshasa’s Pentecostal Worlds


in her household, she immediately added that Fataki was possessed by the demons that used Monica, but he himself already had the ‘demon of sexual desire’ (molimo ya mposa) within him. She held the evil spirits and Fataki himself responsible for the old man’s immoral behaviour. For most ardent Christians, the person is also responsible for allowing these spirits to enter the body and the household, and only deliverance from these demons can purify the person and the community. Therefore, as Nene pointed out, one must be aware that Fataki’s soul cannot be healed in prison. Though most Kinois (inhabitants of Kinshasa), including Nene, would agree that this modern correctional institution has many advantages, she reminded me of the fact that wardens merely confine the prisoners and do not care for the spiritual needs of the human person. Nene was nevertheless sure that, in prison, Fataki would have much time to reflect on his deeds and would, or at least would be expected to, become conscious of his wrongdoing. For this young Christian actress, as well as for Bienvenu and even Serge (who seemed to attribute more agency to persons than his fellow performers did), the prison is a place where people become conscious (kozwa mayele), especially considering the frequent visits by evangelizers and pastors to the city’s prisons. The Christian actors mentioned that this institution, where punishment is translated into physical confinement, could turn into a space in which human beings who are ‘on the wrong road’ have the chance to reconnect with the divine. So as to prove this possibility, the CINARC actors referred to Kinshasa’s bestknown ‘worldly singer’, Papa Wemba, who converted to Christianity during his months in a Parisian prison. All CINARC members agreed that ‘many people get in touch with God’ in prison. Leaving aside the offscreen musings about Fataki’s fate and focusing on the narrative of the Dilemma serial, we discern that two kinds of modern subjects are represented: the character of Fataki stands for a subject defined as a ‘citizen’, subordinated to legislative justice; Monica, Fataki’s partner in crime, on the other hand, is depicted as a ‘Christian subject’ because of her prime interaction with a spiritual world. It is the latter aspect that receives remarkable emphasis in the maboke: although the serial depicts Fataki’s arrest by a policeman, it does not linger on his fate.7 Instead, lengthy scenes are devoted to Monica’s destiny: it is shown how she is delivered, how she identifies herself as a sinner and how she confesses her sins. The decision to depict Monica’s salvation demonstrates that, for the Christian actors, the spiritual restoration of the person is of more concern to them than the correction offered by judiciary procedures and incarceration. We can understand the preference for Monica’s religious


Katrien Pype

purification if we consider the role of the reconfiguration of one’s double in the Pentecostal definition of the ‘Christian subject’. As mentioned earlier in this chapter, much attention is given to the dividuality of a Christian person, and the right moral movement relates to the cleansing of one’s soul. Confinement in prison encloses the human being, silences dividuality and ignores the connection between the person and external influences. Deliverance rituals change the quality of the external components that to a large degree constitute the person. In the end, the Christian rituals reconfigure the composites of the human being and transform the person into a ‘Christian’, a person responsible for her actions and aware of the spiritual entanglements of her social environment.

Concluding Thoughts This chapter has engaged with one of the many ‘new regimes’ of responsibility that have appeared on the African continent since the 1990s, and that do not engage with neoliberal understandings of the subject (see Rubbers and Jedlowski this volume). The emergence of various new religious movements, of which the Pentecostal–Charismatic movement is only one, has, as the editors rightly argue in the introduction to this volume, contributed to a multiplicity of discourses around ‘responsibility’ on the continent. Pentecostal–Charismatic Christianity shapes particular forms of accountability and moral imputation by identifying relations of causality between actions, intentions and actors, and also by proposing technologies of repair, punishment and protection. In particular, the various real and fictive case studies discussed in this chapter have brought to the fore the distribution of causality over multiple human and non-human actors. All of these actors are operating in the various webs of relationships in which human beings (Christian and non-Christian subjects alike) are involved. I have argued that responsibility within Kinshasa’s Pentecostal community is mainly understood in terms of accountability and duty towards others regarding one’s own spiritual safety. This was best illustrated in the opening case study, where the origins of Jeannot’s difficult economic position were located by four different interlocutors in four different realms of Jeannot’s social life. As such, Jeannot’s makila mabe or ‘bad luck’ is not understood as a sad outcome of agents or activities that one cannot control. Rather, Jeannot himself, Bibiche, Jeannot’s wife and his motherin-law all had spiritual solutions in line with the ‘moral movement’, that scenario that transforms a non-Christian into a Christian.

Understanding Responsibility in Kinshasa’s Pentecostal Worlds


The concepts of ‘dividuality’ and ‘individuality’ have been central.8 ‘Dividuality’ refers to one’s obligations to others and one’s spiritual connections to social and spiritual others, while the concept of individuality refers to a particular kind of responsibility – one’s agency to choose a certain path in life – without neglecting the dividual connections and obligations of the person. Jeannot himself, Bibiche and his mother-in-law diagnosed Jeannot’s economic predicaments as the outcome of ‘wrong spiritual’ influences. His makila mabe could be turned around by prayer and a cleansing of his social life. Indeed, Pentecostal churches actively promote a sense of entitlement and control by the Christian over her own situation. Without procluding the agency of the Christian God and the Holy Spirit, pastors and Christians claim that each single individual has the obligation (responsibility) and moral duty towards the Christian God and the larger Christian community, to behave as a Christian, to identify the destiny God has determined for her and to work towards that destiny. Therefore, it is important to emphasize that the concept of makila mabe, which is translated into Kinois French as malchance (‘bad luck’), does not speak to issues of coincidence, chance or hazard, rather it references the spiritual intervention of non-Christian powers that divert a Christian from her (divine) destiny, which is by definition prosperity, health and wealth. In addition, among various Pentecostal circles, there is a strong sense of God ‘testing’ his children by sending temptations or challenges. This awareness also reinforces the sense of self-entitlement and control among Christians, and it leads to tensions, uncertainties and a disposition of alertness that emphasizes Christians’ accountability despite their understanding of being embedded in complex webs of moral, immoral and anti-social forces.9 The material has offered an intimate insight into apparently conflicting understandings of what ‘responsibility’ can mean for a Pentecostal. This leads to various kinds of negotiations and evaluations of one’s relationships (with other humans, with collectivities, and with spirits). Different kinds of repertoires (Nollywood films, ancestral rituals, prayers) are mobilized in order to identify the causes of one’s predicament and to imagine new routes towards better futures. This chapter thus illustrates just one, albiet very influential, modality in which ‘responsibility’ is ‘imagined, discussed and organized’ (Rubbers and Jedlowski, this volume) in contemporary Kinshasa, and which operates outside, beyond and sometimes in accordance with the sphere of the family, the market and the state, each governed by their own regimes of responsibility.


Katrien Pype

Katrien Pype is Associate Professor of Anthropology at KU Leuven University and honorary research fellow at the University of Birmingham. She studies Kinshasa’s media worlds, and social life in contemporary urban Africa. Her work has appeared in, among others, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Ethnos, Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Journal of African Media Studies, and Visual Anthropology. Her monograph, The Making of the Pentecostal Melodrama: Religion, Media, and Gender in Kinshasa, was published by Berghahn in 2012. She co-edited, with Jaco Hoffman, a book on Ageing in Sub-Saharan Africa: Spaces and Practices of Care (Policy Press, 2016).

Notes This analysis, based on ethnographic research undertaken in Kinshasa since 2003, is a summary of the Chapter ‘The Right Road: Moral Movement, Confessions and the Christian Subject’ from my book on the production of evangelizing television serials, The Making of the Pentecostal Melodrama (Pype 2012) published by Berghahn Books.  1. I have consulted the digital version of the Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition, March 2010.  2. All names in this chapter are fictive except for the names of the television celebrities.  3. Foucault (1988: 17) defines ‘technologies of the self’ as techniques ‘which permit individuals to effect by their own means or with the help of others a certain number of operations on their own bodies and souls, thoughts, conduct, and way of being, so as to transform themselves in order to attain a certain state of happiness, purity, wisdom, perfection, or immortality’.  4. This paradoxical approach toward agency among African Pentecostals has been extensively discussed by Niehaus (2010) in the context of Ghanaian Pentecostals in Berlin, and by Van Dijk (2010) dealing with Pentecostal migrants in Botswana.  5. In this interpretation, it is curious to note how evil spirits are associated with the female gender. Women are considered to be the origin of all misfortune: they open the door to evil. I deal with the gendered dimensions of kindoki in Pype (2012: Chapter 9).  6. In the New International Version the verse reads ‘here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me’.  7. The representation of Fataki’s arrest and the offscreen discourse about his fate can lead us into another analysis that goes beyond the scope of this chapter: the Christians accept the authority of the police man, and thus (reminiscent of Althusser’s elaboration (1971) of the interpellation made by a police officer, which constructs the hailed person as a subject of the state) recognize Kinois’ identities as ‘citizens’ subject to law. At the same time – and this came to the fore when I invited the actors to discuss Fataki’s fate – every individual is also immersed in the otherworldly and, as a Christian, subject to God’s authority, here embodied by the pastors. These data thus hint at the commensurability of citizenship and Christianity, the authority of both the state and the Christian god.  8. This conclusion draws from Pype (2017: 129–130).  9. I wish to thank an anonymous reviewer for emphasizing this tension.

Understanding Responsibility in Kinshasa’s Pentecostal Worlds


References Althusser, L. 1971. Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays, trans. Ben Brewster. New York: Monthly Review Press. Bayart, J.-F. 1998. ‘Fait missionaire et politique du ventre: une lecture foucauldienne’, Le Fait Missionnaire 6: 9–38. De Bruijn, M., and R. Van Dijk (eds). 2012. The Social Life of Connectivity in Africa. Basingstoke: Palgrave/Macmillan. Fernandez, J.W. 1979. ‘On the Notion of Religious Movement’, Social Research 46(1): 36–62. Foucault, M. 1988. Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault, ed. L.H. Martin, H. Gutman and P.H. Hutton. Amherst: University of Massachusetts. Lutz, C. 1992. ‘Culture and Consciousness: A Problem in the Anthropology of Knowledge’, in F.S. Kessel, P.M. Cole and D.L. Johnson (eds), Self and Consciousness: Multiple Perspectives. London: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp. 64–87. Kawata, A.T. 2002. Bagó-Dictionnaire. Lingála/Falansé: Français-Lingala. Saint-PierreLès-Nemours (France): Laboratoire de Langues Congolaises. Etóngá ya Nkóta ya Kóngo. LiPuma, E. 1998. ‘Modernity and Forms of Personhood in Melanesia’, in M. Lambek and A. Strathern (eds), Bodies and Persons: Comparative Perspectives from Africa and Melanesia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 53–79. Marriott, M. 1976. ‘Hindu Transactions: Diversity without Dualism’, in B. Kapferer (ed.), Transaction and Meaning: Directions in the Anthropology of Exchange and Symbolic Behavior. Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues, pp. 109–142. Marshall-Fratani, R., and D. Péclard. 2002. ‘Introduction au theme La religion du sujet en Afrique’, Politique Africaine 87: 5–19. Niehaus, I. 2010. ‘Bodies, Heat, and Taboos: Conceptualizing Modern Personhood in the South African Lowveld’, Ethnology 41(3): 189–207. Nieswand, B. 2010. ‘Enacted Destiny: West African Charismatic Christians in Berlin and the Immanence of God’, Journal of Religion in Africa 40(1): 33–59. Och, E., and L. Capp. 2001. Living Narrative: Creating Lives in Everyday Story-Telling. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Pype, K. 2011. ‘Confession-Cum-Deliverance: In/Dividuality of the Subject among Kinshasa’s Born-Again Christians’, Journal of Religion in Africa 41(3): 280–310.  . 2012. The Making of the Pentecostal Melodrama: Religion, Media, and Gender in Kinshasa. Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books.  . 2017. ‘Branhamist Kindoki: Ethnographic Notes on Connectivity, Technology and Urban Witchcraft in Contemporary Kinshasa’, in K. Rio, M. McCarthy and R. Blanes (eds), Pentecostalism and Witchcraft: Spiritual Warfare in Africa and Melanesia. London and New York: Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 115–144. Strathern, M. 1988. The Gender of the Gift: Problems with Women and Problems with Society in Melanesia. Berkeley: University of California Press. Van Dijk, R. 2010. ‘Social Catapulting and the Spirit of Entrepreneurialism: Migrants, Private Initiative, and the Pentecostal Ethic in Botswana’, in G. Hüwelmeier and K. Krause (eds), Travelling Spirits: Migrants, Markets and Mobilities. London: Routledge, pp. 101–117.

Chapter 8

The (Ir)Responsible Witch

Ambiguities among the Maka of Southeast Cameroon Peter Geschiere


n many societies the ‘witch’ is the archetype of an irresponsible person: witches are traitors, they break all the rules and they are especially dangerous since they mostly strike from close by, thus undermining a basic moral command of solidarity and trust among intimates. The Maka, in the forest area of southeast Cameroon, where I have undertaken research since 1971, completely agree with this. Yet, their excited stories about the nightly escapades of the witches can take surprising turns in this respect. Sometimes witches turn out to be extremely responsible persons. They can even turn out to have acted as some sort of martyr, sacrificing themselves in order to protect their own group. It is difficult to translate the notion of responsibility into Maka language. A word that comes quite close is idjouga which means ‘commandment’, but also the obligation to protect one’s dependents. A problem is, though, that this term is mainly associated with men and even more specifically with men of a certain age who have idjouga over their descendants (their biological descendants or those who became associated with their group as daughters-in-law or as clients). It is only in special cases that the Maka are prepared to attribute idjouga to a woman. The merit of the notion is, however, to signal that any reflection on the link between (ir)responsibility and witchcraft among the Maka must foremost relate to one’s obligations (or the denial of them) towards one’s relatives. Ndjaw, the ‘house’ but also the family, is the self-evident focus for reflections on moral obligations, also in the sense of a constant self-searching of whether one meets or fails these obligations. If we

The (Ir)Responsible Witch


want to talk about responsibility in this context, it is therefore first of all important to talk about this ‘house’. The paradox in the way the Maka talk about their witches – as the archetypes of irresponsible people who can, however, turn into martyrs prepared to sacrifice themselves for their responsibilities – may be of more general relevance. What is seen as responsible or as irresponsible behaviour may dependent on the viewpoint of the speaker. In practice the one can easily shade into the other. A lot depends on questions like: responsible for or to whom? In his contribution above Jean-François Bayart emphasized also that in practice we are nearly always confronted with an imbrication of different regimes of responsibility. This is certainly true for present-day contexts in Africa, marked by an apparent withdrawal of the state – in practice often contradicted by all sorts of subterranean ramifications – and a global context in which neoliberal ideas seem to prevail. The consequence is an uncertain entanglement of quite different ideas about responsibility. But for witchcraft imaginaries such a plurality of discourses is, of course, normal. As I have tried to show elsewhere (in a book provocatively titled The Modernity of Witchcraft, 1997) the common tendency to classify such ideas as ‘traditional’ – as an apparently stable counterpoint to ‘modern’ changes – is quite dangerous since their inherent dynamics are then lost from view. Where there are discourses and practices for which people use terms like ‘witchcraft’ – or sorcellerie, feiticharia and so on1 – these turn out to be very innovative, grafting themselves onto new ideas and practices, and appropriating new elements, supposedly to break through existing defences and blockages. This volatility is one of the reasons why these ideas retain such a hold over people’s imaginations in many parts of Africa and notably in the more modern parts of society.2 Looking for responsibility in the unstable and ambiguous field of witchcraft may seem a hazardous undertaking. But it can help us to more generally explore the ambiguities and the surprising turns that may be hidden underneath formal claims of responsibility. Moreover, the inherent capacities of these imaginaries to graft themselves onto other discourses, drawing their resilience from their diffuseness and elasticity, can be enlightening for the understanding of present-day confusions about the intertwinement of different regimes of responsibility in a neoliberal context. But let me first introduce a short story about a witch who, after his sudden death, was celebrated as an extremely responsible and courageous person – at least by some.


Peter Geschiere

The Witch as Martyr In 1971, during the first months of my fieldwork in a Maka village in the forest area of East Cameroon, Eba (pseudonym), a man in the strength of his life, suddenly succumbed to a heavy attack of malaria. His family was in shock: one day Eba seemed to be still in good health and the next he was dying! So, they made furious but as yet unspecific hints at witchcraft: they clearly were looking for someone to blame. However, other people said the very suddenness of his death showed that he must have been himself a witch. After all, everyone knows that when an ‘innocent’ – that is, someone who does not ‘go out’ at night in the djambe – is attacked, she or he will die slowly. Only an altercation between witches leads to a sudden death: they can ‘see’ who is attacking them, and then it becomes a battle of life and death. Therefore, some people whispered that Eba must have been a witch himself who had gotten the worst of the eternal fights among the witches – to put it differently: he got what he deserved. But friends of Eba opted for another interpretation. Maybe he was a witch – after all, he had been very successful in the outlay of cacao and coffee plantations, and that suggested he knew how to defend himself against jealousy. However, more probable was that he had sacrificed himself because he did not want to offer yet another relative to his witch companions. Everybody knows that the witches, when they let their djim (spirit) fly off at night, meet with fellow witches from all over the region. There everyone has to deliver in his or her turn a relative, who is ‘eaten’ by the others. But sometimes a witch refuses to go on with this and then (s)he has to face the wild crowd of witches all alone. This image of the witch as a person of special courage returns in proverbs about the terrible loneliness of the witch, who has ‘brother nor sister, father nor mother’, and who has to face the delirious crowds of witches all alone when (s) he refuses to offer yet another relative. People shudder before such an image. In this interpretation Eba might have been a witch but he was also a martyr who, despite earlier betrayals, had made a final stand by refusing to give up yet another kinsman. Some information about the context of this story might be useful here. The setting of this case is a relatively small Maka village of about 600 people. Like most of the villages in the forest area it consists of several grandes familles (patrilineages) who do not claim a common descent but who, after the colonial conquest (1905–10) were forcibly brought together by the colonial authorities (first the Germans, after 1915 the French) to live along the new road in one larger village in order to facilitate the levying of taxes and forced labour. Prior to this, the Maka (nowadays still a small group of about 100,000 people) lived in small autonomous

The (Ir)Responsible Witch


family-hamlets, dispersed in the forest and without any form of central authority. Inside the family clusters elders ruled over the women and the young men. However, the strong emphasis on gerontocracy, as a basic premise, went together with an equally strong emphasis on personal achievement: an elder should affirm his authority by attracting many persons to his mpanze (the family foyer) – find women for his sons, increasing the number of his own wives, whose work in the food plantations could attract again clients. If an elder failed in this his house was at risk of collapse. In many respects Maka society can still be characterized as built around ‘Big Men’. The imposition of colonial rule came as a shock: when I started my research in the 1970s old men still remembered seeing the Germans enter the village (probably around 1905) and recollected their families’ amazement that a complete stranger could have the presumption of ordering people around. Moreover, colonial rule was quite violent in the forest area because of the desperate efforts of the new authorities to levy labour and surplus products for the mise en valeur of the area. Cameroon became independent in 1960, but this part of the country remained quite inaccessible and backward in many respects. Still, the villagers themselves often proudly insist that le développement is all around. Nearly all people have been to school for at least a few years. Already in the 1960s people regularly commuted to the urban centres in the East and to the country’s big cities, Yaounde and Douala. Moreover, everyday life in the villages had been deeply affected by Christian missions – in the village in this case especially by the Presbyterian church, founded by American missionaries already in the 1920s, but now increasingly surpassed by the Catholics, who arrived later (in the 1930s). But what about the djambe that played such a volatile role in the story of Eba’s death? People describe the djambe – a term that is now invariably translated as sorcellerie – as a nasty creature living in someone’s belly which gives its owner (djindjamb: a person who took the trouble to develop his or her djambe) special powers. The main power is the capacity to transform oneself into a djim (spirit). Especially at night when the owl calls, a djindjamb will leave his or her body and fly off into the night – ‘along the cobwebs of the djambe’ – to join the sjumbu, the nightly meeting of witches, already mentioned, where each djindjamb has to offer a relative to be devoured by the other witches.3 Basic to Maka discourse on the djambe is therefore that it is about the betrayal of one’s kin to outsiders. All my informants agreed: the witchcraft of the house (djambe le ndjaw) is the worst. In many respects djambe is positioned between the intimate world of the house, on the one hand, and, on the other, the outer world and its fascinating opportunities for self-enhancement. Witches


Peter Geschiere

are supposed to have a special hold over their relatives, but they use this in order to hand them over to outsiders. However, this is only the dark core of the djambe notion. Apparently, it can be used in many other ways as well. A good example of this are the nganga (healers), who can only heal because they have developed their djambe to an uncanny extent. And there are many other examples of people who succeed in using the djambe power for more positive purposes. To my surprise, I myself turned out to have a djambe that permitted me to drive my modest Citroen 2CV without causing an accident. But also elders who by their rhetorical prowess succeed in dominating the large villages kande (palavers), or successful entrepreneurs, and prominent football players are supposed to have their hidden supports in the djambe world. Djambe can be channelled for constructive purposes: to heal, to accumulate wealth and power. However, there is always the danger that the basic instinct – that of betraying and cannibalizing one’s relatives – will break through. Eba’s case above offers a spectacular example of how closely intertwined the positive and negative implications of the djambe power can be. Supposedly he had given in to the horrendous temptations that are basic to the djambe: he had used his hold over his people to deliver relatives to his fellow witches. However, he had most courageously turned this around and had succumbed to a horrible fight with his own henchmen in order to protect his own people. In other words, he had shown that even a witch, the arch-irresponsible being, could use his powers in a most responsible way. This almost Christian image of the witch as a martyr, defending his/ her own people in an ultimate fight is certainly not specific for the Maka. Compare what Congolese anthropologist Simon Bockie reports from his conversations with his own grandfather, who was reminiscing about his days as a ndoki (witch): When no family volunteers to provide a victim, we draw lots … However my most frustrating experience as ndoki comes when I have no alternative but to provide my closest relative such as son, daughter, brother, sister, or parent. Doubtless this is the most devastating period for any ndoki. There are those who decline to comply with the demand, but by doing so they endanger their own lives. Therefore we appreciate a ndoki (but by no means do we encourage him) who sacrifices his own life in order to save that of his beloved kin. (1993: 65)4

It might be useful to emphasize how strongly this vision of the witch as a person who suddenly can take his responsibility even to the bitter end, differs from the views of classical anthropology. Compare Max Gluckmann’s famous statement from 1955:

The (Ir)Responsible Witch


An Anglican anthem demands ‘See that ye love one another fervently.’ Beliefs in the malice of witchcraft and in the wrath of ancestral spirits do more than ask this as an act of grace; they affirm that if you do not love one another fervently misfortune will come … Though a charge of witchcraft … may exaggerate and exacerbate a quarrel, the belief emphasizes the threat to the wider social order which is contained in immoral sentiments. Hence the beliefs exert some pressure on men and women to observe the social virtues, and to feel the right sentiments, lest they be suspected of being witches. (Gluckmann 1955: 74)

Clearly the volatility of Eba’s story above fits better with more open approaches to ‘witchcraft’ that leave room for its great ambiguities in everyday life, and also see it not as some sort of counterpoint to kinship and its moralities, but rather as part and parcel of it: as the ‘dark side of kinship’ (see Geschiere 1997 and 2013).

Witchcraft and Responsibility Similar ambiguities prevail in witchcraft stories of a very different allure, for instance in the mythical story of how djambe came to live among the people, that was told to me by various old – and therefore highly venerable – spokesmen.5 One day, Man, hunting in the forest, found djambe between the roots of a giant tree. Djambe said to him, ‘Give me a little meat from your booty’. Man gave him some. On this day he killed a lot of animals. And this continued. Every day, Man gave a little meat to djambe, and he returned with his game-bag fuller than ever. This made his wife suspect something. One day she followed him secretly into the forest. She saw him kneel beside a giant tree and speak to djambe. When he had left, she approached djambe herself and asked it, ‘Who are you?’ Djambe answered, ‘Do you really want to know? Then squat down, spread your legs, and I will show you who I am. I will make you rich too’. Woman, jealous of Man’s success, crouched down, spread her legs and, hop, djambe jumped inside into her belly. Thus, Woman brought djambe into the village. From this day on, djambe in the belly of Woman demanded meat to eat. Woman gave it all the meat Man brought back from hunting, but it was not enough. Djambe forced her to kill all the animals in the compound – goats, pigs and chicken – but it was still not enough. Finally she had to give it her own children, one by one.


Peter Geschiere

Thus, djambe came to live amongst men, thanks to the greed and jealousy of Woman.

This story, like any myth, allows for many readings and interpretations. There is a clear gender bias, strongly reminiscent of Adam and Eve. Yet most of my informants would finish the story by adding a proverb saying ‘Women may have been the first to go out (that is, leave their bodies), but men were soon to follow’ – meaning that women may have a certain priority in the djambe world, but that men soon learnt their way in this domain as well. In the context of this article another implication is important. The story shows again that djambe can be used in a positive way: it brings Man success as a hunter – no mean thing since this was one of the main marks of prestige in the old order. A hunter who shares his meat with his people in the village is one of the archetypes of what to the Maka is a responsible person. It is only after Woman brought djambe into the village – that is, within the sphere of kinship – it began to exhibit its basic instinct that goes against any idea of responsibility: the devouring of Woman’s own people. A similar tricky balance is illustrated by the already mentioned figure of the healer, the nganga. Some nganga introduce themselves nowadays as contre-sorcier (counter-witch). And, indeed, nganga are supposed to be the obvious refuge when one feels attacked by the witches. Most nganga work with a ‘mirror’ – that can take all sorts of forms – in which they can ‘see’ by whom their client is attacked. Then they can ‘fall upon’ the culprits and force them to lift their spell. However, this neat dichotomy – counter-witch against witch – is confused by the fact already mentioned that people will insist that the nganga can only do this because they have a djambe themselves. In fact, they have been trained by their ‘professor’ who helped them to develop their djambe to a maximum, and therefore quite uncanny size. People speak about them as possessed by a djambe that ‘beats all records’. It is only due to their enormous djambe that they acquired ‘a second pair of eyes’ which allows them to ‘see’ the witches and their evil deeds. And it is only because their djambe is so exceptionally strong that they are able to beat the witches and break their spells. In fact, their victory is never assured. I witnessed several cases where a nganga suddenly interrupted a healing ceremony and literally ran away since (s)he had been ‘surprised’ by the witches who almost had succeeded in ‘binding’ him/her. Nganga can also suddenly lose their reputation. Then people will no longer believe in their healing powers and look for a new healer.

The (Ir)Responsible Witch


This vision of the nganga as deeply involved him/herself with the djambe is symptomatic of the circularity of witchcraft discourse: healing from a djambe attack is to be found in the world of the djambe itself. Thus, the discourse creates vicious circles from which it is very difficult to break out. It means also that in practice nganga are deeply ambiguous figures. As healers they seem to be highly responsible persons, protecting their clients against evil attacks. Nganga themselves will also always maintain that their professor has bound them with heavy interdictions (itsi) to use their power to heal and never to kill. But people are never sure of this. After all, a djambe is a djambe. And it is always possible that its basic instinct – to kill one’s own intimates – will prevail. Again, such difficulties of disentangling responsibility and its counterpoint, evil witchcraft, in the key figure of the healer are not special to the Maka, even though there are great variations in this respect – inside Africa but also on a global scale. It is on this point, central to the conundrum of witchcraft and (ir)responsibility, that my earlier publications (notably Geschiere 1997) have been severely criticized. For instance, the French–Togolese political scientist Comi Toulabor – whose publications on humour as the flipside of West African politics I greatly value – reproached me sternly for not making a clear distinction between the ‘witch’ and the ‘magician’ (the first being unequivocally evil, the second capable of using his or her special powers only in a more positive way – Toulabor 1999). John Hund (now at the University of the North in South Africa) attacked me even more forcefully, making me an outstanding example of the fact that ‘academic writers are … unfortunately some of the worst perpetrators of confusion’. He is clearly shocked that I repeated my informants’ view of the nganga as a kind of super-witch who can heal only by using the same powers as witches do. For Hund this is an ‘overwhelming misunderstanding’ (Hund 2000: 369–370). He insists instead that healers (for him especially the sangoma of South Africa) should be kept radically distinct from witches. Of course, the whole witchcraft conundrum would be a lot easier to solve if such a separation could be applied so simply. The problem is, again, the subversive character of witchcraft discourse, which easily erodes all these nice conceptual distinctions – in Africa just as elsewhere in the world.6 It is clear that there are wide differences in how African societies view central actors in the occult domain – the witches, the healers, the chiefs – and to what extent they try to separate the latter two from the hidden powers. It is also true that in the forest societies in Cameroon where I did my main fieldwork, the central notions (djambe among the Maka and evu among the Beti) are extremely broad and fluid, covering a wide array of expressions of the occult, from highly negative to


Peter Geschiere

fairly positive ones – djambe/evu being potentially lethal but also essential for healing, exercising authority, or accumulating wealth. Elsewhere in Cameroon, for instance in the more hierarchical societies of the country’s western highlands (the Grassfields), there is a determined effort to compartmentalize the sphere of the occult through terminological distinctions between more negative and more positive forms. In these societies the chief may be associated with occult powers, but he is normally rigidly separated from the darker manifestations of these powers. However, such distinctions are always precarious and never self-evident. Maintaining them against the inherent fluidity of any discourse on the occult seems to require a constant struggle. For instance, in the 1990s, when many chiefs from the Cameroonian highlands got into trouble with their subjects for continuing to support the hated regime of President Biya, people were quick to accuse them of being real witches, set fire to their palaces, and damage their Pajeeros – all things that had been assumed to be impossible only a few years before, but that were now seen as legitimate since the chiefs had obviously strayed off the right path and begun making alliances with the witches. There are also good reasons to not take for granted the distinctions that are often emphasized in the literature on South Africa between witch and sangoma – or between the sangoma as a “priest-diviner” and the inyanga as his disreputable colleague. Even Hund (1999: 373) emphasizes that they all use ‘the same occult forces’, but he insists that there is an ‘ontological’ difference between them. One can sympathize with his effort to distinguish the sangoma as a reliable ally in these dark struggles. But who makes this ‘ontological difference’ between actors that are so closely involved with the same forces? And how can such a distinction be maintained in practice? Widely different views of the sangoma pertain in daily life. In the famous Ralushai report (1996) on the bloody witch hunts unleashed by young men who called themselves ‘ANC comrades’ during the last years of the Apartheid regime in Transvaal, people said quite nasty things about sangoma (‘with a lust for blood and easy money’, p. 268). Indeed, the young comrades put the healers in an impossible bind. They were the first to be suspected of being involved with the horrible muti murders (the practice of maiming victims, especially children – preferably while still alive – in order to use their vital organs for ‘medicine’). Often the healers could escape being lynched in their turn only if they were willing to use their powers to ‘smell out’ other witches. Thus the notorious diviner Ramaredi Shaba in Sekhukuneland would give drugs to the comrades and then install a big screen – she called it ‘African Television’, – on which the dazed comrades would recognize the faces of ‘witches’ who had to be ‘necklaced’ (Delius 1996: 195).

The (Ir)Responsible Witch


Rather than taking such terminological distinctions – between witch and sangoma, or between ‘responsible’ healers and evil witches – as givens, the question might be how exactly such compartmentalization is maintained, through which struggles and by what means. For it is obvious that maintaining such distinctions will always entail a precarious struggle against the blurring tenor of discourses on the occult. And, as noted, this subversive charge, undermining any clear-cut distinction between good and evil, may be the secret behind the impressive resilience of these discourses in the face of modern changes. The question for this chapter, and maybe for this volume as a whole, is therefore to what extent this image of an always precarious balance between responsibility and irresponsibility is of more general relevance. A ‘witchcraft reading’ of the issue suggests that such an opposition can never be taken for granted. Behaviour that presents itself as highly responsible can suddenly be re-interpreted as very irresponsible. It is only by detailed historical study of a given situation that one can understand why the balance tilts to one side or to the other.

Changes An obvious issue is to what extent this balance is affected by major changes that have marked Maka society over time. The short descriptions above risk presenting an a-historical picture (a recurrent problem of witchcraft studies; apparently the topic has this inherent tendency of ‘traditionalizing’ itself). The question is how deep historical changes – colonization, independence, the neoliberal moment after the end of the Cold War – have affected this precarious balance. Indeed, recently several scholars have insisted that the witchcraft that preoccupies so many people in present-day Africa has to be seen in many respects as a colonial construction. For instance, to Joseph Tonda (2005) this is crucial for his debunking of what he calls ‘The Great Divide’, by which he refers to a tendency in so many writings on Africa to see a radical opposition between, on the one hand, tradition (that can be summarized as l’esprit sorcellaire) versus, on the other, external influences like the establishment of state authority, the impact of the market or le travail de Dieu (God’s work) by European missionaries. In such an opposition the external influences are mostly seen as bringing progress, while the tenacity of the other ‘traditional’ pole is diagnosed as the cause of Africa’s continuing crisis. To Tonda such an opposition is basically false. He rather speaks of one big lava stream in which all the elements, internal and external, melt to form one steaming mass out of which arises the threatening figure of


Peter Geschiere

Le Souverain moderne, present-day Africa´s Leviathan, as the icon of its lasting crisis. Indeed, notions like djambe among the Maka are completely transformed in this process. In a similar vein Andrea Ceriana Mayneri (2014) shows how, for the Banda of the Central African Republic, the semali, a spiritual association, has been transformed from a healing cult into a bunch of evil witches through the translation of the term as sorcellerie. He can even document the moment when this translation took hold in a conversation full of ‘working misunderstandings’ between a colonial DO, the equally French missionary, a local chief and of course the inevitable interpreter who may have played a key role. For Cameroon, a major role in the witchcraft imaginary is now, indeed, played by notions that clearly bear the mark of the colonial encounter. Especially since the end of the colonial period (end of the 1950s) people in southern Cameroon seem to be ever more preoccupied with forms of witchcraft that are emphatically discussed as new. These new forms are about witches who are supposed to ‘sell’ their victims (rather than ‘eating’ them). People use different names for this new witchcraft: ekong, famla, kupe, nyongou. But the basic plot is the same. Greedy people, coveting the new forms of wealth, will offer a close relative (often even their own father or mother) to get access to these new secrets – in this sense there is continuity: these novel forms are still closely linked to kinship. However, what is new is that these witches turn their victims into zombies and put them to work on ‘invisible plantations’, often located at Mt. Kupe in West Cameroon. More recently people will say that this Mt. Kupe (a magical mountain which for a long time has been rumoured to be the source of illicit wealth) is only a relay station. The zombies would no longer be put to work on the spot but rather ‘sold’ from there in international circuits (like the mafia) – a telling example of how witchcraft is supposed to stay in tune with an increase of scale of social relations. It seems to ‘go global’ now. But the special role played by the whites in rumours of ekong or famla suggests that this ‘globalisation’ is not new. De Rosny (1981) reports, for instance, that when he went to a village near Douala to talk to an old chief about ekong he was suddenly blocked by angry young men who became very upset when they heard that a white man had come to the village to talk about zombies to the chief. Also some recurrent patterns in ekong stories suggest a link with old traumas about the slave trade (see de Rosny 1981; Geschiere 2013). These ekong witches can be recognized by their ostentatious show of new forms of wealth – in the 1960s fridges, Mercedes cars and new style houses; now posh villa’s, hotels and Pajeero’s – which they apparently have accumulated through the labour of their zombie-victims. The ekong panic thus seems to express people’s bewilderment about the

The (Ir)Responsible Witch


new inequalities which are underlined by the often quite ostentatious consumerism of these new rich. This panic brings also a tilting of the balance: witchcraft becoming more explicitly associated with the rich and the powerful. Yet, these worries have also another side. Especially in the Grassfields, mentioned before as marked by a strong tradition of chieftaincy, the new, illicit forms of wealth can be ‘whitewashed’ by dedicating them to the chief and thus, supposedly to the progress of the community (Fisiy and Geschiere 1991; Mbunwe-Samba 1996) So, there are deep changes, indeed. Yet the basic ambiguity that interests us in relation to the precarious balance between responsible and irresponsible applications of the occult forces is already there in the olden stories that commemorate pre-colonial events. Compare, for instance, the epos of Nkal Selek, the famous (or notorious – depending on who is doing the talking) warlord of precolonial days. In the 1970s, when I started my research in the Maka area, his story was mainly told by the elders of the Mvang, a small group whose leaders would have terrorized the villages of the more numerous Maka group before the arrival of the Germans around 1905. For the Mvang elders the story of how Nkal Selek led them out of subjugation among the Yebekolo, takes on Old Testament-like overtones (not by coincidence probably): Nkal Selek, as their Moses leading his people into the promised land. In this sense Nkal Selek turns out to be a most responsible person in the story, putting the wish of his people over his own interest. However, his responsible behaviour only emerges towards the very end; for the rest the story is full of treachery and deceit. Here a short summary has to suffice (see for the full version Geschiere 1997). Evina, the great Yebekolo chief, attacked a Mvang village. The Yebekolo killed all the men, and took the women and the boys as slaves. But Evina looked at Nkal and his brother Viang, saw how beautiful they were, and decided to keep them close to him. Thus Nkal became Evina’s special favourite. The latter even took Nkal along on what would turn out to be a fatal expedition for Evina himself: a search for the powerful bubuwa (war medicine) that an old woman in the land of the Mpele was supposed to have. They, indeed, found the old woman, living in misery since her man had died. But she still had the basket with bubuwa. In the beginning she refused to talk to them. But Evina had her dressed and made comfortable by his people. Finally she accepted to talk to them, and – again after long negotiations – ‘to make the war’ for Evina (that is to armour him so that he would become invincible). However, at night, Nkal returned to her, all alone and insisted that she should ‘make the war’ for him as well. Finally she accepted but she asked a special price. Nkal then offered her his ‘father’ Evina (apparently Evina had become


Peter Geschiere

so close to Nkal that the latter could offer him as a relative to the old witch – remember what was said before about witches having a special hold over their relatives). Next morning both Evina and Nkal returned to their homestead. But since then Evina became ever weaker, while Nkal became a great warrior feared by everybody. Later the Mvang obliged Nkal to use his exceptional powers to bring them back to their own country. Nkal refused initially. But his brother Viang reminded him of his responsibility. He left with his people at night and succeeded next morning in ambushing the pursuing Yebekolo. Since then the Mvang were free again.

Everybody is cheating in this story. The old witch claims to have made her ‘son’ Evina invincible in war. But she gives the real power to Nkal because he satisfies her greed by offering her Evina. Nkal thus betrays his own ‘father’. But he uses the power he thus acquired to lead his people intro freedom. The precarious and situational balance between evil and good – between treachery and responsibility – provides a ground-tone that rings through all these stories. The forms may change drastically over time, but there is a link between Nkal Selek’s treachery to obtain the bubuwa – to be used to liberate his people – and the present-day ekong witches who ‘sell’ a relative to get rich, but then can have their illicitly acquired wealth ‘whitewashed’ by offering it to their chief and thus using it for their community.

The Neoliberal Moment But what about the neoliberal moment that is the focus of this volume? Did the drastically changing configuration after the end of the Cold War affect this sensitive balance in imaginaries about witchcraft and responsibility? Recently, several authors have drawn attention to a more or less implicit contradiction in the new style of development launched in Africa under the sign of decentralization, and combining a celebration of market logic in good neoliberal style with a staunch belief in ‘the local community’ as the self-evident anchor for such projects (see Geschiere 2009, ch. 3). Thus, assumptions about ‘communitarian Africa’ acquire a new lease of life in the neoliberal context. The consequence is that the delicate balance between morality and a-morality in the role attributed to witches inside the intimacy of such local communities takes on new vigor. One of the neoliberal innovations that directly affected the Maka villages is what Beatrice Hibou calls provocatively ‘the privatisation of the

The (Ir)Responsible Witch


state’ (1999) – the farming out of responsibilities by the state to all sorts of non-state actors, notably NGO’s in difference guises. For this forest area this was stimulated especially by Cameroon’s new forest law of 1994. This law had all the marks of the new neoliberal take on development: it was in no uncertain terms dictated by the neoliberal global establishment (indeed the World Bank – in this context working closely with the World Wildlife Fund – pushed it through against the tenacious resistance of the Cameroonian government); it proclaimed the new creed of decentralization, trying to by-pass the state; and it strived for a more ‘rational’ and ‘sustainable’ exploitation of forest resources. Yet, this law is also a good example of how it can be misleading to refer to one, more or less homogeneous neoliberal ideology. Neo-liberalism rather reflects, again, an imbrication of different discourses. A striking aspect of the role of the World Bank in this context was its strong attention to ecological aspects. Indeed, several observers stressed that the Bank’s interventions in the forest issue had to be seen in relation to the contemporary problems surrounding the realization of a pipeline through Cameroon that would allow for evacuating the oil from Chad to a port on the Atlantic coast. The Bank’s leadership appears to have set great priority on this latter project, allowing – as some sort of compromise – special scope for ecological pressure groups in conceiving the forest law (Geschiere 2004). Thus, the laws combines a clear neoliberal approach – emphasis on the market – with a staunch belief in ‘the local community’ as a possible mainstay for reaching a more sustainable form of exploitation of the forest resources. Of course, the law’s premise that the locals had to be recognized as important stakeholders in the exploitation of the forest, was most laudable – as was the concomitant emphasis that the locals’ participation was crucial for realizing more sustainable forms of exploitation. However, it was not clear why the locals’ participation had to be realized through making ‘the’ community a pivot for the realization of the project. In the law and the accompanying texts there was not even a beginning of an effort to define this ‘community’. It is not impossible that the legislators abstained from such an effort on purpose, since this would have been a very difficult undertaking that would immediately trigger fierce contestation. From the above it will be clear that one of the hallmarks of social organization in the highly segmentary forest societies was that communities were and always are situationally defined: groups could split up or work together again, depending on their situation. No wonder that it was especially on this point that the application of the forest law ran into great problems. The Cameroonian bureaucracy – notorious for its heavy-handedness – saw its chance to complicate procedures by imposing, apparently with the agreement of expatriate experts,


Peter Geschiere

that the community forest could not be administered by existing communities like the village, but that new associations had to be created especially for this. The legal recognition of such new groupements led of course to endless delays. Moreover, the fact that local communities would now be in charge of a potentially valuable part of the forest triggered fierce internal conflicts over belonging. In some villages, the locals turned against ‘their’ urban elites who had always been seen as obvious brokers but who were now told that they had their salaries and should not try to profit from the new development projects. Elsewhere old rumours about people descending from ‘slaves’ – a problematic translation of a local term indicating that someone was not living with his paternal relatives – were resurrected in order to exclude them from sharing in the exploitation of the community forest. And of course, it was in this context that all sorts of suspicions about witchcraft and jealousy – that some people were trying to profit more than others – acquired new currency. Indeed, the simplistic assumptions by the law about ‘the local community’ as a given are clearly based on a romanticizing vision of a communitarian Africa, where kinship assures reciprocity. The focus in the above on people’s preoccupation with witchcraft – that is with the threat of lethal attacks from inside the community – may have shown the onesidededness of such an emphasis on self-evident reciprocity. The lesson is, however, that also in these small-scale communities, responsibility will always be relative and situational, constantly undermined by serious suspicions. But these examples are also in a broader sense of wider relevance. They clearly show that the neoliberal tide did not bring a radical break from older visions of responsibility. The paradox of the forest law in Cameroon – based on a belief in the market but at the same time building on a supposedly self-evident local community – recurs in so many development projects marked by the neoliberal tide, in Africa as elsewhere. In his recent book on The Spirits of the Laws in Mozambique Juan Obarrio (2014) analyzes this paradox as characterizing what he call the ‘state of structural adjustment’. 7 This neoliberal paradox – signalled by many other recent authors (see the Introduction to this volume) – makes for a complex picture. In many respects the neoliberal interventions seemed to reinforce rather than destabilize, older versions of responsibility. With the strong emphasis on the role of ‘the’ local community, unspecified since it is seen as self-evident, neoliberal reform included older ambiguities of the balance between responsibility and irresponsibility into the heart of its new projects. All the more urgent, therefore, to overcome older visions of Africa as ‘communitarian’ to which anthropology contributed so much (compare

The (Ir)Responsible Witch


the quote from Max Gluckmann above). In such a vision witchcraft figures only as a counterpoint to kinship, fortifying internal solidarity rather than continuously endangering it. In principle, one might suppose that the alterative view presented here – of witchcraft as part and parcel of the kinship order, always making trust relative – would fit better with a neoliberal view (see Geschiere 2016 on the surprising convergences between capitalist and witchcraft discourses). However, the paradoxical combination of celebrating the working of the market with a staunch belief in the coherence of ‘the’ local community, on which so many neoliberal development projects rely, seems to ignore the deep and inherent tensions that mark – probably already before the colonial conquest – African communities. Rather than working from an image of the local community as a self-evident entity – conforming to the old creed of ‘communitarian Africa’ – closer attention is needed to the volatility and plurality of local discourses of responsibility. A witchcraft reading of present-day issues of responsibility may serve to highlight that it is never a given, but has always to be analysed contextually. Such a reading suggests that also in other contexts responsibility may be beset with deep ambiguities: regimes of responsibility may present themselves as self-evident, but they must be studied as constantly being undermined by suspicions of the opposite. Only detailed historical studies of a given context can point out which way the balance will tilt. This might be especially relevant for the study of the twists and turns new discourses on responsibility take in present-day Africa. The paradox of neoliberal development projects highlighted above – presenting themselves as radically new in their reliance on the working of the market, but in practice building on ‘traditions’ and ‘communities’ that are, moreover, seen as self-evident givens – does not bring a breakthrough but rather a confusing imbrication of different regimes of responsibility that only patient research, preferably on a micro-scale and explicitly historical in outlook, can untangle. Peter Geschiere is Emeritus Professor of the Anthropology of Africa at both the University of Amsterdam and Leiden University; he is also co-editor of Ethnography (SAGE). Since 1971 he has undertaken historical–anthropological field-work in various parts of Cameroon and elsewhere in West and Central Africa. His publications include The Modernity of Witchcraft: Politics and the Occult in Post-colonial Africa (University Of Virginia Press, 1997), Perils of Belonging: Autochthony, Citizenship and Exclusion in Africa and Europe (University of Chicago Press, 2009), and Witchcraft, Intimacy and Trust: Africa in Comparison (University of Chicago Press, 2013).


Peter Geschiere

Notes  1. Of course there are deep problems with these terms. They are western notions, introduced in Africa by Westerners (travellers, missionaries, officials, medical people) and distorting translations of local notions. Maka people speak now generally about sorcellerie as a translation of their notion of djambe. But it is clear that this translation is problematic – or rather that it produces a new meaning: it gives new implications to local notions like djambe or miedou (‘medicine’) but also to these western notions themselves. As Birgit Meyer (1999) emphasized most eloquently: translation is a productive process. Therefore, it might be better to try and follow what such translations do over time, than launch a rather Quixotic search for the ‘right’ term. Clearly any search for authenticity is problematic in this field since present-day witchcraft talk is inherently hybrid, a product of the interface between local ideas and externally introduced notions.  2. See Taussig 1987 and his seminal elaborations on the power of the murky.  3. It is striking how much this imaginary resembles European stereotypes: leaving one’s body at night, transforming oneself and flying away to a nightly meeting with fellow witches. In the beginning I was worried by such resemblances (borrowings? influence of missionaries?) but later I learned that this complex of transformation, going out, flying through the night to secret meetings is present in the most different corners of the globe (see Geschiere 1913).  4. Cf. also the (auto)biographies collected by Bogumil Jewsiewicki (1993) from different parts of Congo/Zaire, with elements of similar stories. Elsewhere this logic is supposed to have different consequences. Birgit Meyer (oral communication) mentions that among the Ewe in southeastern Ghana, known throughout the country for their secret powers, a witch who can no longer offer a relative (or no longer wants to do this) is believed to go mad. Isak Niehaus (oral communication and 2012) cites cases from the South African Lowveld in which, confronted with a similar dilemma, people are supposed to have committed suicide to save their kin.  5. This story is certainly not special for the Maka. It is reported from several other groups from the southern forest area of Cameroon (cf. Laburthe-Tolra 1977 on the Beti; Elizabeth Copet-Rougier 1986 on the Kako; Koch 1968 on the Badjoué).  6. See for spectacular examples of such ambiguity in Taussig 1987 on Colombia and Favret-Saada [1977] 1980 on present-day Europe.  7. In his oral presentations Obarrio offers striking examples, citing for instance a senior American UNDP official who angrily replied during a meeting, to the doubts of a few social scientists present, about the ease with which he took ‘the’ local community as the starting point for projects: ‘These communities know who they are and know also their boundaries perfectly well’. Obarrio quotes also a British USAID consultant who insisted that communities ‘will be like corporations, unified single legal subjects under the new land law’. Cf. also Buur and Kyed (2007) who similarly note the unexpected comeback of traditional chiefs in neoliberal Mozambique.

The (Ir)Responsible Witch


References Bockie, S. 1993. Death and the Invisible Powers: The World of Kongo Belief. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Buur, L., and H.M. Kyed (eds). 2007. State Recognition and Democratization in SubSaharan Africa: A New Dawn for Traditional Authorities? New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Ceriana Mayneri, A. 2014. Sorcellerie et prohpétisme en Centreafrique: L’imaginaire de la dépossesion en pays banda. Paris: Karthala. Copet-Rougier, E. 1986. ‘“Le mal court”: Visible and Invisible Violence in an Acephalous Society Mkako of Cameroon’, in D. Riches (ed.), The Anthropology of Violence. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 50–69. Delius, P. 1996. A Lion Amongst the Cattle: Reconstruction and Resistance in the Northern Transvaal. Johannesburg: Raven. De Rosny, E. 1981. Les yeux de ma chèvre: Sur les pas des maîtres de la nuit en pays douala. Paris: Plo. (English translation: 2004. Healers in the Night. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock.) Favret-Saada, J. 1977. Les mots, la mort, les sorts. Paris: Gallimard. (English translation: 1980. Deadly Words: Witchcraft in the Bocage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).  . 2009. Désorceler. Paris: Seuil, Éditions de l’Olivier. Fisiy, C., and P. Geschiere. 1991. ‘Sorcery, Witchcraft and Accumulation: Regional Variations in South and West Cameroun’. Critique of Anthropology 11(3): 251–78. Geschiere, P. 1997. The Modernity of Witchcraft: Politics and the Occult in Postcolonial Africa. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press. (Shorter version in French: 1995. Sorcellerie et politique en Afrique: La viande des Autres. Paris: Karthala).  . 2004. ‘Ecology, Belonging and Xenophobia: The 1994 Forest Law in Cameroon and the Issue of ‘Community’, in H. Englund and F. Nyamnjoh (eds.), Rights and the Politics of Recognition in Africa. London: Zed Books, pp. 237–61.  . 2009. The Perils of Belonging: Autochthony, Citizenship and Exclusion in Africa and Europe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.  . 2013. Witchcraft, Intimacy and Trust: Africa in Comparison. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.  . 2016. ‘Capitalism and Witchcraft’. Keynote for the deutsche Afrikanisten Verein, Berlin 21 July 2016. Gluckmann, M. 1955. Custom and Conflict in Africa. Oxford: Blackwell. Hibou, B. (ed.). La privatisation des États. Paris: Karthala. Hund, J. 2000. ‘Witchcraft and Accusations of Witchcraft in South Africa: Ontological Denial and the Suppression of African Justice’. Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa 33(3): 369–89. Jewsiewicki, B. 1993. Naître et mourir au Zaïre: Un demi-siècle d’histoire au quotidien. Paris: Karthala. Laburthe-Tolra, P. 1977. Minlaaba, historie et société traditionnelle chez les Bëti du Sud Cameroun. Paris: Champion. (Also published as: 1981. Les seigneurs de la forêt. Paris: Publicatons de la Sorbonne, 1981; and: 1988. Initiations et sociétés secrètes au Cameroun. Paris: Karthala).


Peter Geschiere

Mbunwe-Samba, P. 1996. Witchcraft, Magic and Divination: A Personal Testimony. Bamenda / Leiden: Afrika Studiecentrum. Meyer, B. 1999. Translating the Devil: Religion and Modernity among the Ewe in Ghana. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press for IAI. Niehaus, I. 2012. Witchcraft and a Life in the New South Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Obarrio, Juan. 2014. The Spirit of the Laws in Mozambique. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Ralushai Commission. 1996. Report on the Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft Violence and Ritual Murders in the Northern Province of the Republic of South Africa. Northern Province, Republic of South Africa: Ministry of Safety and Security. Taussig, M. 1987. Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man: A Study of Terror and Healing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Tonda, Joseph. 2005. Le souverain moderne: Le corps du pouvoir en Afrique centrale (Congo, Gabon). Paris: Karthala. Toulabor, C. 1999. ‘Sacrifices humains et politique: Quelques exemples contemporains en Afrique’, in P. Konings, W. van Binsbergen and G. Hessling (eds.), Trajectoires de libération en Afrique contemporaine. Paris: Karthala, pp. 207–223.

Chapter 9

The ‘Return of Culture’

Spiritual Threats, Asylum Policies and the Responsibility of Anthropological Knowledge Roberto Beneduce

We are now dealing with a complex volume, in which heterogeneous regions are differentiated or deployed in accordance with specific rules and practices that cannot be superposed. Instead of seeing, on the great mythical book of history, lines of words that translate in visible characters thoughts that were formed in some other time and place, we have in the density of discursive practices, systems that establish statements as events (with their own conditions and domain of appearance) and things (with their own possibility and field of use). They are all these systems of statements (whether events or things) that I propose to call archive. —Michel Foucault, Society Must be Defended

Introduction: ‘Reading along the (Post-colonial) Archival Grain’ For some time now, the terminology of the territorial commissions that decide the outcome of requests from refugees seeking international protection has been dominated by words such as ‘coherence’, ‘credibility’ and ‘plausibility’. The accounts of asylum-seekers indicate fully-fledged canons of discourse that are emerging, which seek to reconcile the narrative principles of asylum policies at the same time as marking out what is at stake (morally, epistemologically and politically) in what I call a ‘narrative duel’. What appears in the background of this duel can be described as the expression of a new kind of domination and resistance. The questions asylum-seekers must answer at borders, in identification and expulsion centres, or in airports, are more than a simple check to


Roberto Beneduce

identify a foreign citizen. They are confused and certainly heterogeneous traces of a political and epistemological crisis in international law, and recall what Dominick La Capra has called an ‘inquisition register’ (1985: 62–63). This complex and chaotic legal–bureaucratic system, riddled as it is with mistakes in transcription and translation of personal or place names, events, birthdates and so on, often has the effect of suppressing voices and experiences, and it generates misunderstanding and suspicion instead of guaranteeing rights and protections for those who have suffered all manner of violence and humiliation. Regarding Denmark, Danstrøm and Whyte note that the problem of mistakes by interpreters – deliberate or otherwise – is very frequent: They spoke in detail about the problem of incompetent – or even malicious – interpreters. Stories abounded of interpreters who did not speak the language properly, who made unprofessional comments, or who simply seemed not to like the asylum seeker in question. This is part of a larger problem of interpretation in asylum hearings …, but also a specific problem in Denmark where a troubling number of court interpreters have been shown not to be up to their jobs’. (2019: 186)

Referring to these misinterpretations and abuses, Bohmer and Shuman (2007) write of ‘epistemologies of ignorance’, wherein a claim to be bringing information and knowledge to light more and more often becomes a mechanism that produces ignorance: starting from the paradoxical ignorance the asylum-seeker often encounters in regards to his/her own experience. The asylum-seeker’s experience is subjected to an examination that scrutinizes the where, the when and the what, and is then translated into other linguistic and moral registers. The end product is often implausible – a terrible situation for someone for whom this judgement seems to deny the truth of his/her memories and his/her world. Among the many forms this ‘ignorance’ may take are the comments and judgements filling the modern archive of asylum requests. Marked by a strong tendency towards mistrust, they turn the work of the territorial commissions for the recognition of international protection into a ‘technology of suspicion’ (Campbell 2004).1 Obviously, these attitudes increase feelings of uncertainty among asylum-seekers and, when accompanied by a hostile political climate, they can generate anxiety or even a sense of persecution.2 There is one specific aspect of this process, that I would here like to address from the outset. For this ‘suspicion’ is not only moral and political (the refugee seen as a liar who invents facts or circumstances to increase his/her chances of being granted asylum), but also inextricably epistemological as regards the status and meaning of the claims and

The ‘Return of Culture’


experiences of many asylum-seekers from sub-Saharan Africa. It is this epistemological aspect on which this chapter will concentrate. I am thinking here of the suspicion that particularly surrounds accounts of those threats which emanate from what is usually called the ‘world of the invisible’ (witchcraft, fetishes, membership of sects or confraternities whose activities are secret or illegal). These can add further nuance to the idea of an ‘epistemology of ignorance’. Charles Mills’ The Racial Contract, from which I have drawn the formula ‘epistemology of ignorance’, suggests the possibility of considering these cases in a broader perspective. Mills analyses the paradoxical situation created by producing ignorance and a systematic misunderstanding of the world, the idea of truth and the very experience of minorities in racial societies (Mills, 1997).3 The forms this misunderstanding takes constantly overwhelm any listening to and analysis of the narratives of immigrants as well as asylum-seekers. Their translation into the vocabulary of human rights, and their interpretation in terms of ‘true’, ‘false’, ‘likely’, or ‘believable’, create an area of linguistic and cognitive opacity that often has a clinical dimension too, as other idioms of suffering and traumatic memories are often ignored or distorted by the diagnostic categories of Western psychiatry. The debate raised by witchcraft trials in Africa (Bouju and Martinelli 2012; Ceriana Mayneri 2014; de Rosny 2005), cannot fail to strike us as providing a valuable perspective on the paradoxes that have arisen from their unexpected reappearance, not just in the accusations springing from remote villages, but in the modern courtrooms of post-colonial Africa and the context of asylum policies. We might acknowledge that this is only another expression of the ‘modernity of witchcraft’ (Geschiere 1997), which casts light on its stubborn survival (however confused its definition may be: Yengo 2016), but which also, above all, has a singular capacity to question the vocabulary of humanitarian law as well as that of Western psychology. Starting from an analysis of transcripts of territorial commission hearings for the recognition of international protection, of lawyers’ appeals and of the courts’ responses to these, I aim to identify in what seems to remain untranslatable, eccentric or simply wrong, an epistemological–political value and, implicitly, a question about the role of the anthropologist. It is also a matter of examining these new expressions of the ‘witchcraft issue’ then, so much as the challenges it poses the discourse of individual rights. However, while the persistent references to witchcraft (and satellite concepts such as ‘trafficking in human remains’, ‘sacrifices’, ‘fetishes’, and so on) in a number of African penal codes is an unresolved political–moral problem, it also poses quite a few problems for the cultural expert in the courts of Turin or Amsterdam.


Roberto Beneduce

Before quoting some fragments of my ethnography,4 I would like to recall another aspect that is at the centre of these reflections. Analysing these systems also means questioning the ‘epistemological’ responsibility of anthropologists, now that they are more and more often called upon for an ‘expert’ opinion. This might be on the credibility (and the reality) of this or that reference to family or property disputes, the existence of ‘secret societies’ or spiritual powers, or how matters such as homosexuality are perceived in the society of origin of many asylum-seekers. In other cases, they may be consulted on those ritual practices that may be at the origin of cuts, scarification and scars that asylum-seekers exhibit as ‘proof’ of the threats and violence they have suffered. In some respects, this new kudos enjoyed by anthropology is singular. The discipline has been marginalized and accused of remaining anchored to an indefensible and obsolete cultural relativism; recall its caution over practices described as cultural or religious before they were finally labelled ‘female genital mutilation’ (FGM). Now, by contrast, anthropologists are often needed for their capacity to determine the ‘truth’ of declarations that are, once again, ‘cultural’ or about ‘ethnic’ and community rights (as in the famous case of the Mashpee trial which has been brilliantly analysed by James Clifford 1988: 277–347), playing a similar role to the medical expert who is called upon to certify the truth of torture or trauma. The anthropologist’s responsibility here is not only epistemological, however, in the sense of reminding that there are other psychologies and ontologies of person, other forms of experiencing or perceiving the world and other power relations, a knowledge of which is fundamental for understanding the discourse and experiences of asylum-seekers.5 It is also a more complex form of responsibility, which we may provisionally describe as historical–political, in the sense that anthropology must take into account the genealogy of the technologies of suspicion mentioned above, treating them as manifestations of those same techniques that fed the obsession with identifying the indigenous peoples in the colonies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and that have moulded the very form of the nation-state. I want to comment briefly on these techniques and their role in the colonies before returning to the question of the anthropologist’s epistemological and political responsibility with regard to the right to asylum and the migration question in general. This is a duty: anthropology must become an archive of living archives, a critical archaeology able to recognize, in contemporary categories and practices for identifying foreign citizens and regulating the right of asylum, the forms of a system that first saw light of day in the colonial period (Guha 1997). More particularly, we

The ‘Return of Culture’


adopt here the same perspective as Stoler in her enlightening book on the Dutch colonial empire: Reading along the archival grain draws our sensibilities to the archive’s granular rather than seamless texture, to the rough surface that mottles its hue and shapes its form. Working along the grain is not to follow a frictionless course but to enter a field of force and will to power, to attend to both the sound and sense therein and their rival and reciprocal energies. It calls on us to understand how unintelligibilities are sustained and why empires remain so uneasily. (2009: 53)

Finally, there is another aspect to the responsibilities that the anthropologist must shoulder: in the face of the (small) lies of the asylum-seekers, he must constantly recall the innumerable, far more tragic and life-endangering lies of Western governments and institutions actively involved in the production of ‘illegal’ migration and ‘technologies of anti-citizenship’ (De Genova 2004, 2013; Inda 2006).

‘Paper Persons’, Body Proofs and Paradigms of Identification When the archive… seems easily to give access to what one expects of it, the work is all the more demanding. One has to patiently give up one’s natural ‘sympathy’ for it and consider it an adversary to fight, a piece of knowledge that isn’t to annex but disrupt. It is not simply a matter of undoing something whose meaning is too easy to find; to be able to know it, you have to unlearn and not think you know it from a first reading. —Arlette Farge in Ann Laura Stoler, Along the Archival Grain

I start from a reflection by John and Jean Comaroff on South Africa, where the penetration of the gospel message and the rise of the colonial system brought together at one and the same time two moral discourses: ‘reform’ of the African person, and bureaucratic–administrative control of the population. The authors remind us that the construction of the individual in pre-colonial society was a process of constant negotiation carried out through the building of alliances, struggles to acquire ‘wealth in people’ (Guyer 1993, 1995) and the assertion of one’s social status. In the eyes of the Protestant missionaries, however, these practices looked very different. Judged as having no ‘sense of self’, the Tswana were accused of being selfish, greedy and of displaying a marked indifference to others. These traits were to be corrected by introducing a form of individualism that was consistent with the principles of private property and individual rights. This change was brought about by the


Roberto Beneduce

new importance of property rights, contracts and official deeds, a change that was perceived by the local population as a way of turning individuals into ‘paper persons’ and, overall, as ‘the English way of warfare’ (Mackenzie, in Comaroff and Comaroff 2001: 277). This controlling and bureaucratizing of social relations was a generalized experience in the colonies, though it was brought about through various strategies. About (2011a: 281) describes how a central registry was introduced in Algeria in 1852, underlining that the increasing inflexibility of the system of information-gathering revealed, above all, the concern to oversee people and their mobility, much more than any need to introduce controls to improve security and forestall possible crime. Controlling the colonized peoples, particularly their patronymic system, soon became a practice of ‘assigning identity’, which was perceived as more and more intolerable. About’s reflections show how the colonial functionaries themselves were aware that the system of the judicial register, which is effective when it is dealing with documents that are ‘authentiques et sûrs’ (true and certain), was not transferable to the North African colonies: how was one to transcribe without error all those ‘nuances de prononciation’ (pronunciation nuances)? This was an admission of impotence, and one that points directly to the confusion inscribed upon the very heart of the colonial system and which Mbembe analyses in terms of the ‘violence of ignorance’ of that system (2006: 114). Another, no less important, aspect that About’s research brings to the fore concerns the application of this identification system to the free movement of the colonized and immigrants in the colonies. The aim was that every immigrant should have an identity card, without one s/he could legitimately be detained while their true identity was established. It was full-scale control of movement and being without documents became a crime (About 2011a: 292). Nothing, however, prevented the colonized from trying to disguise their identity by supplying false information, and so, from this fierce, invisible battle around who the colonized, the indigenous, the immigrant were, and what their real names were, there arose an urgent demand for the more stable truths of the body and its measurements. There was no alternative to making use of the new anthropometric methods inaugurated in Tunisia in 1880 and introduced in Algeria in 1890, on the basis of the new discoveries of the system introduced in France by Bertillon. Such a complex, cross-referenced, archival system entailed a triple card system for defendants and previous offenders (along with their identity card was an anthropometric one and a phonetic one for their name) in a desperate attempt to assign single profiles to the anonymous

The ‘Return of Culture’


faces of this ‘masse indigène’ (indigenous mass), this ‘bloc informe de primitifs’ (shapeless crowd of primitive people) (Porot 1918: 377). The same procedures would be widely applied in Indochina too, but in this case the reactions of the population were strongly hostile, often obliging the colonial administration to compromise or desist. Alphonse Gallaud de la Pérouse, a deserter (and anarchist) fleeing under the false identity of Zo d’Axa, wrote a reportage in 1905 on what was happening in Saigon to the Chinese immigrants. The creation of identification systems for those belonging to the most marginal categories of colonial society had two purposes: surveillance of those regarded as dangerous, and regulation of immigrants from China, who – after the end of the Tonquin War in 1885 – began to arrive in ever greater numbers, upsetting the previous economic stability. In 1897 Vidal, one of those responsible for agricultural exploitation in Indochina, suggested creating an individual residence permit for a specific reason: ‘Whether through temperament or habit, the indigenous tend to break agreements they have entered into and for which they have received more or less significant sums, depending on the duration or importance of the role they have to perform. Convinced that they can always take to their heels and move elsewhere in the colony, they leave the farmer without the means to work his land or even gather in the harvest and go looking elsewhere for a new agreement that they will break in the same way and with the same confidence in their own impunity’. (Cited in About 2011b: 6; my emphasis)6

The aim, then, was to identify, distinguish and control the movements of the administration’s dependents, the ‘boys’, the retired indigenous soldiers, the prostitutes, the criminals, the farmhands and any other persons employed by European families or businesses. Unlike in Algeria, the introduction of these techniques in Asia could, in principle, count on one advantage: in China and other parts of Asia the use of the lines of the hand in techniques of divination, and of fingerprints to sign documents and letters, already had a long tradition and therefore promised to meet with less resistance (Ginzburg 1980: 26). In practice, however, immigrants and criminals both underwent a process of registration and photographic and anthropometric identification (fingerprinting, taking height and chest measurements), which the former would gradually reject more and more vigorously in protest at being assimilated to the latter. Treated in the same way as criminals or, at least, as untrustworthy; exposed to humiliating, inhumane methods (or regarded as mere ‘merchandise humaine’ (human commodity) (Gallaud de la Pérouse, quoted in About 2011b: 3), obliged to accept that their residence permit was associated with a fixed abode, both the Chinese immigrants and the local


Roberto Beneduce

population rejected what was felt to be an oppressive form of control. One particular concern with this process that is relevant here stands out: that of restricting mobility, which the colonial administration perceived as either a threat or as conflicting with the interests of colonising farmers and landowners. The colonial empires’ concerns about the geographical mobility of populations, the unknown reasons for such movements, as well as doubts as to the correct transcription of names and so forth, can be supposed to be antecedents of the concerns and suspicions toward asylum-seekers and their narratives that are resurfacing today. Underlying the procedures for identifying the Other (previously the colonized, presently the foreign citizen), is the shadow of a suspicion concerning his/her identity, his/her past and his/her body (are those scars authentic or self-inflicted?) The fact that the bureaucratic order was perceived in the colony in terms of war, as the Comaroffs recall, and the proliferation of bureaucratic–administrative acts as a project designed to transform individuals into paper persons, thus constitutes a formidable clue about what the experience of the colonized was like. It also suggests the importance of extracting from the colonial archives forgotten traces of resistance, escamotages (avoidances) and techniques of dissimulation (which can only be done by overcoming the natural resistance of archives to revealing what has not been classified: Cavazzini 2009; Derrida 1995). The preliminary need for the anthropologist called on to provide expertise is consequently that of fully assuming the weight of a historical and epistemological responsibility, of analysing the forms of control of mobility once used in the territories of the colony. The paradigm of identification, Fuss (1995) reminds us, was decisive in the functioning of empire, no less than it has been in psychoanalysis. Moreover, examining and interrogating once again the procedures of control in the colonies, to understand how far they reveal structural continuities with present-day asylum policies brings with it an unavoidable third responsibility, a third duty for anthropology in the present: that of denouncing other lies and other hypocrisies that, under the aegis of humanitarian rhetoric, are often forgotten and suppressed.

Epistemological Responsibility (1) and the Return of the Occult to the Table of Human Rights Mr President, if I may, I would like to share some information with everyone here in this room. In Africa, when one enters into the logic of fetishes, no distances, oceans, or protection units can protect you. The logic of fetishes is

The ‘Return of Culture’


that fetishes cross oceans and borders, and they find you wherever you are hiding. And so, there is… there is a great problem of communication between us and the witness. Relocating will not protect him from the rage of the fetishes of terror. The fetishes of terror have their interdicts. When you violate them, misfortune will reach you wherever you are – when you have entered into the logic of fetishes. —Elisabeth Clavérie, ‘Les combattants, les fétiches et le prétoire’7

Since migration towards Europe has been reduced to the right to asylum – which is the only way of entering the Schengen area – new questions have come to dominate the encounter between institutions and foreign citizens. As we can easily infer from the transcriptions of the interviews carried out by territorial commissions, it seems that in their accounts decisive aspects of the cases referred to run the risk of being trivialized or distorted, above all in the case of asylum seekers from sub-Saharan Africa. This impression is only strengthened by the plethora of news items and articles available online that purport to offer information to those who are asked to evaluate asylum requests but often encounter difficulty in finding sources that can guide their decisions. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), for example, has long been publishing files on war contexts, countries in which various forms of persecution are reported, but also information on ‘secret societies’, ‘ritual practices’ and so on. These documents, which are consulted by lawyers and territorial commissions (and perhaps by asylum-seekers too) also include ethnographic data and anthropological works in some cases. Such abundance of documents indicates how much the international agencies, anthropological knowledge and the commissions for recognizing the right to asylum speak to each other – perhaps more than we imagine, but still without being aware of what is at stake in this conversation. When it comes to the most common situations I focus on in my research – fleeing one’s country to escape threats of a ‘spiritual’ nature or the obligation to become members of a secret society (that of the Ogboni in Nigeria, for example) – the UNHCR’s documentation agency (Refworld) usually tries to protect the anonymity of its sources, not naming those interviewed, and using circumlocutions such as ‘the political science professor’ and ‘the anthropology professor’.8 The documents admit that in some cases academics refused to provide this information and requested anonymity, which almost suggests that social scientists feel reticence, difficulty, or, more simply, discomfort at the prospect of collaborating with international protection agencies – something that requires further analysis in itself.


Roberto Beneduce

But what most interests me here is the labyrinth of images and formulae referring to ideas of the individual, widespread anxieties and family ties that are difficult to interpret or even to translate into our vocabulary. One could be tempted to conclude that they are a series of experiences and memories that are essentially unclassifiable and that translating them into the context of human rights seems to generate at the very moment of their transcription a grotesque effect, or an unreal atmosphere, given all the misunderstandings, the trivialization of the events, or the ignorance of their context. A sort of epistemological obscenity, dominated by error, not unlike what Ian Hacking (2004) draws attention to in his work on early anthropological writing. The impression is that the discourse of the asylum-seekers simply stages a new form of the ‘untranslatable’, as in the case I describe below. O.K.B. is a young Nigerian, born in the state of Uromi. He fled his country following some family conflicts that he described in the following terms to the territorial commission for international protection in Turin: I left Uromi in July 2013 because my father was a witchdoctor in the village of E., and, as is traditional, when a witchdoctor dies [the commission’s text speaks of a ‘holy man’] the eldest son has to take his place. My father had had only daughters from his first wife, and that is why he had married other women – so that he could have male heirs. My mother became pregnant with me. When I was born, one of my father’s other wives gave birth at more or less the same time. As by tradition a son cannot live in his father’s house, my mother sent me to an aunt in Lagos. I was there till I was six years old. Then I came back to my mother in Uromi, and, to mark me out from his other sons, my father cut marks onto my stomach [on the abdomen; author’s note]. After, when I was 23 and came back, after the first ritual in Lagos, I had to come back to Uromi for the second one. But I had become a Christian and refused to undergo the second ritual. So I ran away back to my aunt in Lagos. I had to do this as, after I had refused to become a witchdoctor [again, ‘holy man’ in the commission text; author’s note] a curse (juju) had been laid on me and my family. It was because I was afraid of this that I ran away … Then I heard that my younger brother had agreed to become the ‘holy man’, but he died after undergoing these rituals. In the meantime, my father had died too … Then I ran away from Lagos when my aunt told me of the deaths of my brother and my father. They are convinced that I am to blame for these deaths: the spirit had refused to have me ‘replaced’. That is why I was under a curse, and my aunt drove me out of her house for fear that these curses could bring misfortune on other members of the family too.

A whole series of images, references to religious or simply ‘cultural’ practices emerges in the words of an asylum-seeker that question our models of subject, human rights, illness and causality. At the same time these fragments give rise to the need to draw on a branch of knowledge

The ‘Return of Culture’


(that of anthropology) which can illuminate its principles and make them understandable for a judge or territorial commission. How, otherwise, can we find our bearings in the jungle of information on the rule of ‘matrilineal’ residence, or the obligation to succeed to the role of ‘witchdoctor’ in a secret society? What value can we give to the scarification of the body with the sole aim of distinguishing it from that of a brother born at the same time? What meaning is there in the curses that brought down the younger brother and his father after O.K.B. refused to succeed him after his death? These problems undoubtedly originate in part from the various ways of reasoning about ideas such as ‘facts’, ‘truth’ and ‘proof’ in anthropology (and the social sciences in general) and in legal reasoning too, as Kandel reminds us.9 Apart from this difference in the reasoning and language of law and anthropology, what emerges is above all the redundant use of a vocabulary that seems to be trying to evoke an atmosphere of mystery, barbarism and the occult (‘curse’, ‘mystical powers’, ‘sorcerer’, ‘rituals’, ‘juju’). As in other circumstances already described elsewhere (Beneduce 2018), in this case too, the weakness of the arguments (i.e. the weakness of causal links between different events and circumstances) ends up increasing a sense of incredulity and the probability that the story recounted will be judged to be fairly implausible. We can hear the echo in this language of a debate a few years ago between authors such as Ranger (2007) and ter Haar and Ellis (2009). Ranger critically analyses the language used by the media and Scotland Yard after the discovery in London of the body of a young man of probably Nigerian nationality, which had been terribly disfigured. His criticism furnishes an opportunity for re-reading the anthropological works published recently on witchcraft, the occult, magic and ritual crimes in Africa – works whose language seems to be singularly close to that of the London or South African police. Ranger’s diagnosis is severe, attributing to scholars such as Comaroff and Comaroff (1999) or de Boeck (2005) the responsibility for contributing to a conceptual confusion one of whose effects has been that of reproducing quite a few colonial stereotypes of Africa. In reviewing another work by Ellis and ter Haar (2007), Ranger claims: They define ‘religion’ in its widest sense – as ‘a belief in the existence of an invisible world, often thought to be inhabited by spirits that are believed to affect people’s lives in the material world’ … [Yet] an account of African religion which has too much to say about witchcraft, or about human sacrifice, or trade in body parts or satanism cannot help but be an un-representative and distorting account. (Ranger 2007: 276)


Roberto Beneduce

Although the suggestion of historicizing ‘the occult’ on the basis of rigourous ethnographic analyses may be unreservedly welcomed, it is an idea that is still too general and its amalgamation of such heterogeneous references (ritual murder, leopard-men, charlatan prophets, accusations of witchcraft and voodoo rites) is not very satisfying (Meyer 2009). The question encompasses not only the need to conceive the ‘visible’ and ‘invisible’ worlds as structurally connected, but also to remember the heterogeneous population inhabiting the last one: spirits, ancestors, ‘things’ and men with special powers. It is of this world and this epistemology that the accounts of asylum-seekers speak so insistently. The question is then, once again: how do we translate arguments and concepts that derive from ontologies, experiences and perspectives that are irreducibly other? How can we describe them without reducing their paradoxes?10 In the face of these difficulties, ter Haar and Ellis (2009) use Ranger’s criticism as a springboard11 to suggest ‘taking African epistemologies seriously’. This is a principle that can be accepted not only for re-thinking the relation between the religious and the political, but also, in this case, the experiences recounted by the asylum-seeker, and the terror that, wholly or in part, helped convince them to leave their country and informs the nature of the anxiety that continues to mark their time. The anthropologist finds themselves assailed today by these epistemologies, no longer in exotic places or in field research, but in the tribunals and lawyers’ offices of their own town.12 They must situate these truths, these experiences, not in the ‘life world’ of this or that interlocutor in their own particular cosmopraxis, but in the legal language of human rights, citizenship and international protection: inside the polis. This is a different task from that formerly provided for by anthropological knowledge, one which asks us to imagine the role of the social sciences differently in the face of this new form of parrhēsia which is witnessed by the Other, the stranger, when s/he tells the truth as s/he sees it, when s/he recounts his or her world. What I want to suggest is that at the very moment in which the anthropologist is called on as an expert to express an opinion as to the credibility and likelihood of what an asylum-seeker recounts and recalls, they are effectively in the same theoretical territory as Foucault: ‘It seems to me that by examining the notion of parrhēsia we can see how the analysis of modes of veridiction, the study of techniques of governmentality, and the identification of forms of practice of self interweave’ (Foucault 2008: 8; my emphasis).

The ‘Return of Culture’


Epistemological Responsibility (2): ‘Persecution’, the Vocabulary of Domination In the semantic labyrinth typical of the situation of many asylum-seekers, the subject of witchcraft is frequently misunderstood. It is in any case ‘a slippery concept’ (Geschiere 2013), as has often been shown in studies of the role it plays in the imaginaries of African societies (Beneduce 2010b, 2016; de Rosny 1981; Fancello 2015; Geschiere 1997; Yengo 2016). The ambiguity of an idea ‘ni dos, ni ventre’ (neither back nor belly) (Mallart-Guimera 1981) does not, however, just derive from the ambivalence of a ‘technique’ used not only for destructive purposes, but just as often to develop individual talents (artistic gifts, healing powers, capacity to exercise power, acts of vengeance against thieves). Beyond the experience of anguish and terror of those who interpret their constant lack of success (at school, at work, in love) or other unhappy events as the consequence of acts of witchcraft, beyond the nightmares and anxiety of foreign citizens even when far from home (Clavérie 2018), witchcraft also brings about arbitrary violence against those suspected or accused of practicing witchcraft and so condemned by African courts (Mgbako and Glenn 2011; Schnoebelen 2009). Thus, witchcraft drives both its supposed victims and its alleged perpetrators from their country, in a vortex that nurtures the semantic, moral and epistemological uncertainty (victim or perpetrator?) and often channels these experiences into the confused territory of ‘symptoms’ or ‘ravings’. The anthropologist’s (and clinician’s) epistemological responsibility also starts here: from the requirement not just to translate unusual experiences into the languages of psychopathology or the ‘primitive’, allowing the central core of questions that the symbolic cloak protects to finally be expressed. It may be that the semantic uncertainty and confusion surrounding the use of the vocabulary of witchcraft needs a different approach, less interested in defining what witchcraft is and, above all, concerned with what people experience when they use this word. The Italian anthropology of Ernesto de Martino has provided us with a unique reflection on the significance of this experience and of the crisis that it heralds among subalterns. De Martino explained how, in southern Italy, a complex magical lexicon came into being to express the feeling of being controlled and dominated by hostile, overwhelming forces, and that among the farm labourers of Lucania this ‘experience of domination’ was behind a no less complex set of magical–therapeutic practices designed to restore freedom, religious reintegration and health:


Roberto Beneduce

This term [binding] indicates a psychic condition of impediment or inhibition, and at the same time a sense of domination, a being acted upon by a force that is as strong as it is mysterious, one that totally removes a person’s autonomy as well as his capacity for decision-making and choice. The term affascino also designates a hostile force circulating in the air, inhibiting or compelling. The image of tying up and of the bound person as ‘being tied up’ is reflected in the synonymous term attaccatura, when it is used to refer to binding. In particular, ‘tied blood’ [attaccatura di sangue] is a bond that is symbolically represented as blood that does not flow freely in the veins. Binding often features headache, sleepiness, weakness, slackened muscles, and hypochondria, but its characteristic feature is the experience of an indomitable and ominous force … The experience of domination can reach the point that an abnormal personality more or less completely invades behaviour, a personality that is in contrast with the community’s accepted norms: the subject will no longer simply be bound, but spiritato, someone possessed and in need of exorcism. (2015: 3)

‘Condition of impediment’, ‘sense of domination’, removed capacity for decision-making and choice, ‘the experience of an indomitable and ominous force’; what words could better describe the uncertainty that asylum-seekers have experienced in their own countries, where they are faced with corruption, intimidation, structural violence, jealousy and all kinds of threats? How better could one describe the sensation of being dominated by ‘dark, malignant forces’ that deprive one of any autonomy even after one has moved to Europe? These formulae have the virtue of defining a kind of experience that is both psychological and political, both religious and economic, and not just ‘cultural’. It is another kind of truth, one that interpellates the criteria of our law, a truth arising from the subaltern’s perspective, given that the discourse of migrant or refugee does not tell us how the world is, but ‘how it is with him or her’ (Das 2007: 330). What I want to draw attention to is the fact that de Martino’s vocabulary (2015, 2016) may offer the most appropriate translation of the condition of many asylum seekers and refugees (the new subalterns, the new wretched of the earth). Moreover, the category of ‘persecution’, the feeling of domination it connotes, the experience of ‘being acted upon by’, constitute a remarkable and valuable conceptual parade of the categories of international law (those justifying protection on the basis of documented ‘acts of persecution’), the language of psychiatric diagnosis (‘sense of persecution’), as well as the vocabulary typical of witchcraft (James Fernandez coined the splendid term: ‘mythology of negative’). Translating the experience of witchcraft into the language of international law, or transferring the memory of painful events from one semantic and moral territory to another, can, however, end up generating tragic misunderstandings.

The ‘Return of Culture’


Particularly when the asylum-seeker, remaining true to the interpretations shared with his/her group and to the language that gives them form, expects the account of their situation to be understood literally. After all, the legislation the commissions must work with (DL 251/2007) does not leave much room for the possibility of applying international protection against the kinds of threat or persecution that we have described here.13 The story of S., a man from Cameroon, is relevant for exploring some of these difficulties. S. lost both his parents when he was hardly one year old. His father had five wives (his mother was the third), and S. had three brothers and two sisters. S. describes his mother’s death and what happened after like this: ‘Her mouth was wide open, she was talking, all of a sudden she gave a cry, and died like that, all of a sudden’. The elder of the sisters consulted a marabout, who attributed the woman’s death to an attack of witchcraft. His father too died shortly after, and in July of the following year S. himself fell ill. When he was taken to hospital, the doctors found nothing wrong with him and discharged him. His sister took him to a marabout, who said that his father belonged to a ‘sect’, and that if she wanted the child’s health problems not to return, she should leave him with him for two months. And so S. was entrusted to the marabout for about three months. When he was an adolescent, economic difficulties obliged him to give up his studies: he therefore asked a paternal uncle how much he had inherited but was shown the door in no uncertain terms and threatened. Meanwhile, his sister had become paralysed and was disabled. S. tried his luck as an apprentice carpenter in Duala. In 2004 his elder brother too died, leaving S. feeling terribly alone. The sequence of deaths intensified. In all, four brothers died in mysterious circumstances without, on S’s account, hospital doctors providing any diagnosis. He registered the date and place of each death, and his elder sister told him that she intended to kill herself in despair. It was around this time that he decided to leave the country to free himself from the baleful influence of his uncle, the shadow of witchcraft and the anguish of the constant presence of death. But in Libya he was arrested and tortured.14 The physical and psychological consequences of these events were described to us during a meeting in which he broke down in tears constantly. At a later meeting he showed us the notes in which he had summarized the series of tragic events he had recounted. Written at the bottom of the page were the words: ‘tradition killed my family’. There is nothing exceptional in this story for the ethnography of witchcraft in Africa: it is a succession of tragic events and deaths, accusations and threats – a succession marked by intense anguish, a classic example of what Warnier has called ‘crise sorcellaire’ (witchcraft crises) (Warnier


Roberto Beneduce

2017). But unlike what Warnier suggests, these crises and their accompanying anguish constitute something that is anything but rare, as the experience of asylum-seekers proves. Actually, though Warnier rightly underlines the circular and performative character of the ‘complexe sorcellaire’ (‘witchcraft complex’), his hypothesis on the risks deriving from the ‘flood’ of anthropological writings (such as Galland’s work), responsible for encouraging what they are seeking to analyse, raises more than a few doubts.15 Despite his admiration for the rigour and detail of Galland’s research on young people and the functionaries of Yaoundé in Cameroon, in his analysis of it, Warnier concludes: The ethnographic restitution he practices is so faithful to the expressions of the language – camfranglais –, the urban setting, the places and the actors, that it immerses me in the quarters of Yaoundé where I lived for many years. Yet I feel lost there. I am struck by a cognitive dissonance as to what is witchcraft. In the Cameroon I knew, the witchcraft crisis was part of the hazards of existence, just like street accidents in Paris, which only distantly affect the banality and pragmatism of the daily life of each and every one of us. By contrast, if we are to believe E. Galland, the inhabitants of Yaoundé describe and speak of their environment as if it were a mixed reality, a world in which every practical activity possesses a lining, like that of a cloak. (Warnier 2017: 127, my emphasis)16

Now, those who have carried out research in Cameroon or with European asylum-seekers from the country, tend to be surprised by Warnier’s surprise, his own ‘cognitive dissonance’, and his assertion that in his ten years of research in the country (over a period of forty-five years), he remembers encountering only three cases of authentic crises sorcellaires, ‘witchcraft crisis’, with their typical ‘procession of anguish, panic, psychosomatic distress and accusations’. Though Warnier rightly asks us to distinguish mere suspicion, fear, rumour, gossip or news spread by the media from genuine examples of ‘witchcraft crisis’, what raises doubts is his conclusion that the latter is a rare phenomenon. In support of his thesis, Warnier refers to the research of Kandem, a sociologist who sees success as deriving simply from professional ability or personal talent, not from mystic powers, just as Guyer in her work finds no significant reference to witchcraft (‘sorcellerie’) in the economies of African societies. While these citations are a necessary counterpoint to inaccurate generalizations and remind us of how heterogeneous the opinions and perspectives of African societies are, they seem to disregard a central feature in the representations of witchcraft: not the usuallymentioned antisocial dimension, but the principle that sees witchcraft as a technique used to construct individual talents and specific abilities. And

The ‘Return of Culture’


so Kandem’s claim regarding the relation between individual abilities and economic success by no means refutes the importance of witchcraft ideology: it simply does not mention it. As for Guyer, while Warnier wonders ‘How is it that Jane Guyer finds no allusion to occult practices, when others investigating them find traces of them at the heart of the imaginaries of economic activity?’ (Warnier 2017: 139),17 it should be recalled that in one of the works mentioned by Warnier the author writes that though ‘…it is very hard to find concrete evidence, there are various acclaimed magical effects used to make money (òògùn owó), arising from a conviction that money can in fact be produced or conjured magically, that some people sell their soul to the devil (gbé lùkúdì mì) to achieve wealth, and that human sacrifice can be employed in churning out crisp, new currency notes’ (Guyer 1987: 173).18 There is nothing, then, in the works cited by Warnier that seems to exclude the centrality attributed by the social imaginary to witchcraft and other ‘mystical forces’ in shaping individual success (on Cameroon, see also Laburthe-Tolra, 1981, 1985). Nevertheless, Warnier’s criticism of the excessive number of works on the subject of witchcraft and the frequent confusion between ‘representation’, ‘metaphors’ and ‘reality’ shows how the social sciences still find it hard to interpret anguishes and accounts connected with the imaginary of witchcraft or other ‘mystic’ threats, and that these are often regarded as somewhat implausible. I want to give another example of this implausibility.

The Untranslatable The story described below illustrates more clearly what kinds of ‘texts’ the anthropologist (or the ethno-psychiatrist) may be required to offer an expert opinion on, and what form of responsibility emerges, both when he merely states that what has been recounted is an experience widely shared in the area from which the asylum-seeker comes (knowing that this says next to nothing of the experience of a particular subject), and when he indicates the questionable nature of some claims, indirectly supporting the possibility that the account is no more than a text ‘invented’ ad hoc and sold to the asylum-seeker by those who are now known as ‘story-sellers’: Territorial Commission [T.C.]. Why did you go to Abuja following your father’s accident? [which took place a result of an attack by the militias of Boko Haram, and in the course of which he died – author’s note].


Roberto Beneduce

Asylum Seeker [A.S.]. Before my father left for the journey he had called me, telling me he had left me money to pay my university fees, I was at school when the message arrived of what had happened, and so I went home but could not find the money he said he had left me. My uncle wanted to take over my father’s property and twice tried to kill me, he did not succeed, but after the second attempt I went to Abuja. T.C. Why exactly did you go specifically to Abuja? A.S. A friend of mine took me to a traditional doctor. T.C. Why did you have to go to a spiritual doctor? A.S. Because I had a problem that had been thrown at me. My uncle had tried to kill me, I was dreaming, I was tied and beaten and when I woke up I was tied, it was difficult but I managed to get the telephone and I called my friend … and he took me to Abuja. T.C. How did your uncle try to kill you? A.S. My uncle wanted to take my property that we had inherited from my father. I saw my uncle in my dream, this time I’ve told you about was the second attempt, the first time I dreamt that my uncle was making sacrifices in front of my door and when I woke up I saw these things in front of the door, and then in the end my uncle took my goods. T.C. Did you report these facts to the police? A.S. No. T.C. Did you take legal action because your uncle had taken the land? A.S. I didn’t do it because I was advised to drop it if I wanted to live because my uncle is very powerful spiritually [my emphasis].

The explanation offered by the young asylum-seeker may be too weak and his arguments too odd to allow a territorial commission to find them credible and plausible, and accept that there are forms of power and threat of a ‘spiritual’ nature, whose violence is certainly no less significant for that. Remembering dreams of death, traditional doctors and ritual sacrifices; claiming to wake up in the morning ‘tied’ (which for the asylumseeker constitutes ‘proof’ of attempted murder), or calling up the mystic powers of a relative, may seem little more than ravings. And yet this was the talk that Ernesto de Martino had listened to and explored in southern Italy, using the formula of being acted on by to give a name to

The ‘Return of Culture’


these singular experiences, and describing the forms of fascinazione and fattucchieria (spell and sorcery) that happened in Lucania through the act of binding (the victim would wake up the next day with his hands and feet inexplicably tied up). Day after day, the person attacked felt weaker and weaker, became hypochondriacal and sick. In the context of asylum policies, the role of the anthropologist is a singular one, and decisive: first of all, it is a matter of removing these narratives from the stereotyping that is determined by the very procedure of the meeting, the hearing and the registration of asylum seekers’ experiences. Speaking of such complex matters would ideally require time, a shrewd and subtle translation, and respect for those concepts that challenge easy interpretations and could be described as ‘untranslatable’, in Barbara Cassin’s sense of the term (2014). In practice, this task is not without its dangers. I myself have attempted to do it on various occasions, with greater or lesser success: producing a close-packed description, a dense ethnography, of these social and political events; trying to give an account of this particular expression of a subaltern’s perspective without adhering to the expected dichotomy: ‘true’ or ‘false’. It is no small challenge, given that we are faced not with the usual ethnographic contexts (groups: families, clans, castes; forms of knowledge and symbolic systems: healing models, initiatory rituals, and so on), but rather with individual trajectories that have developed in directions in which contexts, languages, historicity, borders and ties have often overlapped chaotically and sometimes tragically. Secondly, it is the anthropologist’s responsibility to grasp from these accounts, however flattened they may be by the trivialization of bureaucratic procedures, the germs of a political subjectivity, the traces of a question that has little to do with those ‘cultures’ or ‘tribal customs’ to which the international organizations and territorial commissions often refer. Finally, the anthropologist’s responsibility may lie in drawing from these uncanny tales the same basic materials of power, oppression, subalternity19 and domination. They are undoubtedly experiences that indicate, often in a fragmentary or ‘somewhat implausible’ fashion, but always effectively, the existence of other ontologies and agencies, of another relation to things, to the body and to people (see Jackson 1990). The capacity to listen to these anxieties, expressed in a language charged with ‘asperity’ (Guattari 2000: 27), is the epistemological and moral responsibility I was referring to above.


Roberto Beneduce

The Evidence of the Body, or Another Form of the Obscene: Conclusions For some time now, the role of medical or psychiatric visits to verify the authenticity of the claims of asylum-seekers regarding violence they have suffered and the nature of any psychiatric or physical consequences of it (PTSD and certifying of scars compatible with the events described, in particular)20 has set off a silent mutation of the right to asylum. From having been political and legal, it is now being driven more and more towards a radical medicalization. In the case of asylum-seekers from African countries there is another aspect that makes any dialogue more inaccessible and at times even dreamlike. On the one side, there are requests for proof and documents and, on the other, references to mystical violence and fetishes or dreams of death, the display of scars that are supposedly the result of cauterizations to irreversibly ‘brand’ those who are homosexual, ritual marks and traces of rites that have marked their entry into secret societies, etc. Faced with an unknown and disturbing semiotics, there is growing suspicion and epistemological uncertainty, as is shown, for example, by the increasing predominance of international protection granted for ‘humanitarian reasons’. However, recent legislation by the Italian government (‘Security Package’), has removed both the protection for ‘humanitarian reasons’ and the recourse that was possible in the past to the formula provided for in international law, changing the dynamics of procedures for recognizing right of asylum. If the accounts, the words, of asylum-seekers often display a ‘small epistemological scandal’ (Beneduce 2008: 506), particularly when they bear the task of penetrating the ever more parochial national order of origin and truth,21 it is on/in the body where the search for the ‘pure metal of the truth’ continues (Fassin and D’Halluin 2005: 606). Nevertheless, Fassin and d’Halluin do not consider one aspect of this ‘unveiling’ that seems to me decisive and that, like another famous unveiling – that of the Algerian women during the anti-colonial struggle examined by Fanon (Fanon 1965: 35–68) – reveals and conceals at the same time a central aspect of the dialectic true/false or credible/incredible in asylum policies (in Fanon’s case in the context of the colony), by reintroducing one particular narrative capital: the ‘cultural’ one. And it is at this juncture that the anthropologist steps forward to join the doctors and psychiatrists, called upon to certify the truth of symbols, signs, scars and rites. I suggest that this unveiling becomes effective in one particular area of the West’s humanitarian law (and logos?),22 where judgement and evaluation find themselves dealing less with the coherence and reliability

The ‘Return of Culture’


of narratives, or the documents that can give added truth value to the asylum-seeker’s statements, so much as with the body: a body that, with its geometric incisions and its star-shaped scars, is often disturbing – the vehicle of an insistent alterity that one thought of as confined to the territories of the exotic (Beneduce 2018). The asylum-seeker’s body with its scars and incisions remains a disturbing and indecipherable document. Here lies the risk for the anthropologist (a risk I know well) of complying with the role that is expected of one: of certifying the link between particular cultural practices and those scars. Unless the anthropologist accepts this pact, which is dangerous for the knowledge s/he embodies and could erode its credibility, s/he must overturn the premises of the request (plausible vs implausible, etc.) and increase out of all proportion the complexity of the variables at play, even in what seems to be the simplest story, even in the most ‘constructed’ narrative. What seems to me important, therefore, is to repeat Fanon’s choice (Fanon and Lacaton 1955). When interpellated by a judge to explain the meaning of the strange behaviour (symptom or lie?) of Algerians who refused any responsibility for a crime they had admitted to in front of police just a few hours previously, Fanon suggested that this ‘strange’ behaviour was nothing more than a refusal to recognize any value to the French colonial authority (Beneduce 2011). Fanon’s answer can be borrowed today, as it offers a way (perhaps the only way) to escape the risk of anthropology becoming enlisted and complicit in establishing ‘hierarchies of credibility’ (Stoler 2009). Since it is impossible to analyse individual cases in detail, as a rigourous ethnography would require, the least one can say here is that the accounts of the ritual scarification of bodies, water turning to blood, avenging divinities, mysterious deaths by poisoning, and spells cast by greedy relatives and voodoo priests, force the discourse of human rights, citizenship and asylum to enter a labyrinth of ‘epistemological murk’ (Taussig 1984). Difficult to translate or verify, these forms of violence and coercion, subjection and terror, highlight the limitations of our apparatus of knowledge, techniques of identification and laws: or to put it more starkly – highlight our ‘ignorance’. At the same time, however, the increasing call for the services of ethnopsychiatrists, linguists and anthropologists to declare whether what has been recounted really exists in the asylum-seeker’s country of origin, if his or her ideas are plausible and culturally shared, suggests a different aspect. It is here that the responsibility of anthropological knowledge and anthropologists that I mentioned at the outset becomes particularly relevant.


Roberto Beneduce

The unexpected return to a universe of exotic experiences and practices (sacrifices, voodoo rites, witchcraft) (Taliani 2012, 2017), of local systems of imagination and knowledge, or of cultural alterity tout court, suggests the existence of a field of reflection and conflict that is extremely controversial, even where it is a somewhat tawdry kind of alterity – badly translated, if not invented. A ‘retour de savoirs’ (a return of knowledge), we might repeat with Foucault (1980: 81). And it is this second aspect that my ethnography has endeavoured to analyse. If research on the persistence of these themes and interpretive models of the negative in Europe had already set off a virulent debate (I think of the work of Ernesto de Martino in Italy, Favret-Saada’s on witchcraft in the 1970s, or Camus in Brittany in the 1990s; Camus 1988; de Martino 2015 [1958], 2016; Favret-Saada 1977), the challenge from the narratives of the asylum-seekers now seems to me to have a different meaning: almost the desire to challenge and question the idea of the person, individual rights, autonomy or social ties that underpin the national order of things (Malkki 1995) and the secular model of the modern state. However, the more oppressive the ‘bureaucratic tyranny’ (de Certeau 1997: 31) becomes and the more techniques of identification improve, the more African asylum-seekers will be found to be referring to the religious world, the invisible and magic – in a word, to what remains ontologically undecidable. The more pervasive that paradigm of identification that began in the colonial empires becomes (Fuss 1995), the more asylum-seekers seem to retreat into what could be called areas of epistemological and moral indeterminacy. Are these new stratagems of witchcraft? Are the asylumseekers’ stories of fetishes, secret societies, and spiritual threats the new face of witchcraft’s ‘modernity’? It is this territory that leads to what is summed up in the singular term ‘débrouillardise’ (the art of getting by):23 stories bought from story-sellers before meeting the territorial commissions; experiences and memories where the false and the true are indiscernible; identity papers burnt to make identification more difficult; fingerprints erased by using acid on the hands or other techniques, and so on. All these strategies, slowly penetrating the fault-lines of asylum policies, show the limitations of the criteria adopted for granting international protection, but they also reveal a clear epistemological-political conflict. However, if what separates the world of basic life and the political world of citizenship is indeterminate and contradictory, the process of political subjectivization that originates along this border can only be characterized by uncertainty, indeterminacy and ‘dissensus’ (Rancière 2004: 304). And during this process, like waste or like the dossiers of a disordered and unruly archive, the forms of violence, deception and

The ‘Return of Culture’


hypocrisy of the European governments have been accumulating – governments that for years have been passing off as humanitarian intervention what were only other ways of colonizing, and new expressions of power over life and death. It is most certainly a singular archive: carved into memories and bodies as well as in transcriptions and appeals to courts, where one can recognize the different hands that have cut into those words and bodies at various times, and where the anthropologist who is increasingly used as an expert, will find him/herself having to rethink his/her knowledge, and the ambit of its inevitably controversial applications. From now on, merely certifying references to secret societies or voodoo rites as credible (van der Watt and Kruger 2017) or stating that a tale of mystical threats and the existence of juju is culturally plausible will not increase the legitimacy of asylum policies nor contribute to recognizing other forms of knowledge and experience. If I had to suggest how the anthropologist could make good use of their knowledge in an ambit vitiated by innumerable contradictions and so escape the trap and the doubts in which they are often caught, I would sum up their aims as follows. First of all, it is a matter of having the systems of present-day asylum policies recognize the continuity with what was a similar obsession with identification in the colonies and the violence of its ignorance. This system, so central in the colonies, was the expression of a true battle ‘for truth’ (Foucault 1980: 132): The refusal to accept the truth of the colonizer (‘you are a liar’) is part of a struggle to exist politically and socially … As Fanon explains in The Wretched of the Earth, the main stake in the colonial space is the problem of the truth: the colonized refuses to behave and to conduct himself or herself in a way that is ‘readable’ and intelligible to the colonizer – and in this sense his or her conduct is deliberately untruthful. (Lorenzini and Tazzioli 2018: 83)

Secondly, we must combat that ‘moral arrogance’ (Lambo 1956:  1390) that denied and continues to deny the value of other epistemologies and other ontologies, settling for designating them as delusions, metaphors or just as cultural beliefs (Deleuze and Guattari 1983, 1987; Gibson and Beneduce 2017; West 2007). Finally, a ‘decolonial anthropology’ (Segato 2015) can play its part in solving the contradictions or uncertainties that characterize present asylum policies only if it can analyse critically the contradictions between the needs of the nation-state (defending borders, identifying foreigners, etc.), the languages and the epistemologies of Other, and the right of asylum.


Roberto Beneduce

Through laying bare the contradictions and weaknesses of humanitarian principles, the strategies for obtaining recognition of the right to asylum, whatever they may be (lying, using concepts that are difficult to translate, referring to facts such as, for example, one’s religious faith or one’s gender identity, whose truth status is difficult to determine or completely undecidable, etc.), constitute a new expression of the struggle to exist as political subjects today. And the use of stories, constructed or invented, does not at all contradict what I mentioned earlier regarding the authenticity of the crises of anguish caused by spiritual threats and the imaginary of witchcraft. This is what the landscape of experience, migration and the struggle to affirm one’s rights is like. Only a naive ethnography, Rosaldo (1989) reminds us, would claim to provide descriptions without inconsistencies or cultural contradictions. To this I would add that only a naive ethnography would claim to provide a coherent picture, without contradictions or variegation, of the behaviours, choices or experiences of refugees or asylum-seekers. This is the sense in which I spoke earlier of anthropology as critical memory and archive of archives. The anthropologist must then take a step and see in all this the ‘return of knowledge’, what Foucault termed the ‘insurrection of subjugated knowledge’ (2003:7), or the ‘return of the cultures’ that Ashish Nandy (2003:3) has spoken of more recently,24 all of which is happening today in an unexpected place: the tales of asylum-seekers. It is in the anthropologist’s capacity to articulate the micro-story with an analysis of these often fragmentary and chaotic forms of criticism of the national order of things that I get a glimpse of the most valuable role of an anthropological knowledge that is at last decolonized, able to dissect the contradictions of the modern state and its racial foundations (Mills 1997; Segato 1998, 2015). Roberto Beneduce, PhD, MD, anthropologist, is full professor of Medical and Psychological Anthropology (University of Turin) and Director of the Frantz Fanon Centre, in Turin, a centre devoted to research and clinical intervention in the area of migration, refugees and asylum seekers. His research engages various intellectual fields, including the history of ethnopsychiatry, violence and migration and refugee issues, the current religious imaginaries and medical knowledge in sub-Saharan Africa (Mali, Cameroon, and Mozambique). He is the author of L’histoire au corps: Mémoires indociles et archives du désordre dans les cultes de possession en Afrique (2016) and co-author with N. Gibson of Frantz Fanon, Psychiatry and Politics (2017).

The ‘Return of Culture’


Notes  1. The author is referring to drug addicts, but her expression can readily be adapted to the context of asylum policies and the role that expert knowledge (medical, psychiatric or anthropological) plays in it. On ‘cultures of suspicion’, see more particularly Bohmer and Schumans (2018). I am deeply indebted to Bohmer and Shuman’s research and theoretical suggestions.  2. In the Italian context, after the formation of the recent right-wing government in March 2018, there has been a still more discriminatory change of direction in the laws and regulations concerning the immigrant population (reduction in funds for health care for the immigrant population; increase in expulsions and suspension of rescue work in the Mediterranean; cancellation of the recognition of international protection for ‘humanitarian reasons’; and so on). In recent months there has also been a disturbing increase in racist violence, including that perpetrated by the police forces, and various cases of suicide among immigrants without residence permits. The members of the territorial commissions for humanitarian protection try to distinguish themselves from being simply enforcers of an arbitrary set of rules and, while the request for anthropological advice brings with it the risk of delegating, at the same time it certainly also expresses the need to base the decision to accept or reject a request for asylum on broader and more legitimate premises on the geo-political and epistemological planes.  3. ‘The epistemological dimension is the corollary of the pre-emptive restriction of knowledge to European cognizers, which implies that in certain spaces real knowledge (knowledge of science, universals) is not possible. Significant cultural achievement, intellectual progress, is thus denied to those spaces, which are deemed (failing European intervention) to be permanently locked into a cognitive state of superstition and ignorance’ (Mills 1997: 44).  4. These aspects have helped me overcome some of my doubts as to the use of anthropology and put my expertise at the service of the territorial commissions for recognizing international protection, asylum-seekers and their lawyers. It was in this context that I was able to gain access to the documentation examined here. Essentially, there were three sources and circumstances for this research. Most of the documentation derives from the territorial commissions themselves, which, on the basis of my past research experience in the countries of origin of some of the asylum-seekers, asked me to meet them with their consent, to interpret some of the circumstances described during the audiences, which appeared ‘bizarre’ or ‘incomprehensible’ to the commission. In these cases there was often a further reason, which was the presence of symptoms that interrupted the audience, or any suggestion that it might be useful to do so (crises of distress or confusion or ‘blockage’ in some asylum-seekers when, during the hearings, they were speaking of certain experiences, as well as sometimes abruptly stopping speaking without offering any explanation). In these cases one could offer an interpretation of their suffering, which might be useful for understanding their past experience. Secondly, the materials analyzed consist of documents provided by lawyers who have pleaded for asylum-seekers in appeals, when international protection had been denied them. Finally, the third source of information on the circumstances described here originates from my research at the Fanon Center of clinical ethnopsychiatry in Turin, where some immigrants come to ask for psycho-therapeutic support, as well as from counselling work as part of the Neapolitan project We Care. On the Turin context and experience, see also Beneduce (2008, 2014, 2015).  5. Authors such as Douglas (1992), Gluckman (1972), Mead (1962), and Mead, Chapple and Gordon Brown (1949) have already written on the responsibilities of anthropology and its categories in encouraging racial conflict, or in constructing joint work between disciplines to solve emerging social problems. See also Ortner (1995) for some extremely


Roberto Beneduce

original suggestions on anthropology’s responsibility in properly rethinking the ideas of ‘resistance’, ‘agency’ and ‘subject’ in ethnographic research. Another theme here not taken in account is the relationship between blame and responsibility (Werbner 1972), and more generally the issue of ‘debt’, ‘pawnship’ and ‘loyalty’ in West Africa’s ontologies, as well as in African social and family relationships (Lovejoy and Falola 2003).  6. ‘L’indigène est enclin par tempérament ou par habitude à rompre les engagements qu’il a contractés et pour lesquels il a reçu des sommes plus ou moins considérables selon la durée ou l’importance du rôle qu’il doit remplir. Certain qu’il pourra toujours prendre la fuite et se retirer sur un autre point de la colonie, il laisse l’agriculteur sans moyens d’exploiter ses terres ou même de cueillir ses récoltes et va rechercher ailleurs un nouvel engagement qu’il rompra de la même façon et avec la même certitude d’impunité’.  7. ‘Monsieur le Président, si vous permettez, pour une information que je partage avec tout le monde ici dans cette salle. En Afrique, quand on est dans la logique des fétiches, c’est pas les distances, les océans, ou les unités de protection qui peuvent vous protéger. La logique des fétiches est que les fétiches traversent les océans, les frontières, et vous atteignent dans vos caches. Donc, il y a ... il y a un grand problème de communication entre nous et le témoin. C’est pas parce qu’il est relocalisé qu’il sera protégé de la colère des fétiches du terroir. Les fétiches du terroir ont leurs interdits. Quand vous les violez, le malheur vous atteindra où que vous soyez – c’est quand on est dans la logique des fétiches’ (Clavérie 2018: 730).  8. (last accessed 16 May 2019). But then, why should the anonymity of a researcher be maintained? Is not this requirement already an explicit admission that even speaking of certain topics could have consequences?  9. ‘[There are] several ways in which lawyers and anthropologists think differently, five of which are relevant here. First, both address issues of responsibility, but whereas lawyers are concerned with locating individual liability or attributing blame, anthropologists seek to explain socio-cultural reality in more transcendent terms. Secondly, acts and their consequences are assessed normatively or even moralistically by lawyers, whereas anthropologists generally maintain a stance of pragmatic, if not ethical or epistemological, relativism. Thirdly, lawyers deductively apply abstract principles to decide specific case, whereas anthropologists study specific cases inductively in order to construct abstract models. Fourthly, lawyers equate the cause of an event with the allocation of individual responsibility for it, whereas anthropologists see causality as multiple and ultimately systemic. Lastly, “truth” lies for lawyers in the “story told by the human witness of the human act,” [whereas] for anthropologists … in the replicable analysis of data.’ (Good 2004: 130). On these issues, see also Berti, Tarabout and Good (2015); Good (2007); Whyte (2015). 10. Clearly I refer here to the questions of the ontological turn, particularly those developed by Eduardo Viveiros de Castro when he considers anthropological work and what is a ‘good enough ethnographic description’: ‘I will just repeat … that to take seriously does not mean to believe … to be in awe of what people tell you, you take them literally when they do not mean to …, to take it as a profound dogma of sacred lore or anything of the sort. It means to learn to be able to speak well to the people you study …. They do not need to agree with you completely – they will never do so anyway; all we require is that they find your description a good enough one’ (2015: 14). 11. ‘All the evidence points to the fact that most Africans – like most people on the planet, for that matter – understand and interpret the world partly through the prism of religion. In other words, religion, whatever else it may be, is a mode of apprehending reality … Religious phenomena – even those that one may personally find repugnant – are best described in neutral terms. This implies that, if scholars are to break with the tradition of regarding Africa as an exceptional continent, they need to describe practices and ideas

The ‘Return of Culture’


by applying categories that can also be used, at least in principle, in regard to any other human society. If we take this as a point of departure, it is apparent that many of the phenomena that Terence Ranger considers to fall into the category of ‘the occult’ are better placed within the purview of religion more generally. This, of course, depends on how one defines religion – something that Ranger neglects to do, just as he does not define any of the other key concepts he uses. It is not a matter of choosing a favorite definition of religion from among the many dozens on offer. What is required is to formulate a definition that emerges from the context under study’ (ter Haar and Ellis 2009: 387-400) 12. ‘Cities throughout the world today increasingly include minorities defined by race, ethnicity, language, class, religion, and sexual orientation. Encounters with “difference” now pervade modern everyday life in urban settings.’ (Rosaldo 1989: 28) 13. The ‘acts of persecution’ envisaged as justifying international protection extend only to those of ‘physical or psychological violence’, ‘legislative, administrative or judicial provisions or those of the police force’ that are discriminatory in character, the impossibility of gaining access to common means of legal protection and ‘judicial actions or penal sections’ towards those refusing to be conscripted into military service … Situations such as these are not readily applicable to the kinds of persecution many asylum-seekers speak of. 14. The case of a youth who was still underage when he arrived in Italy and who was granted humanitarian protection but not the status of a refugee, is no less relevant for these issues. According to his account to the commission, he fled because of the violence he and his mother suffered after she had been accused of being a witch and of causing the death of the woman who was a tenant of theirs along with her husband. The sequence is fairly common: after consulting the pastor of a Pentecostal church, the woman learnt she could not have children because of her landlady (the asylum-seeker’s mother). Returning home, she threatened the latter, claiming she would get back at her if she continued to harm her and prevent her from having children. The next day, however, the woman was found dead at home: a pastor came to the house and, in turn, threatened the asylum-seeker’s mother, claiming that after three days those responsible for the tragic death would die themselves. Nothing happened, but a few days later some men entered their house during the night, attacking the woman and her son: they amputated two of the woman’s fingers, while the youth, who had hidden beneath a blanket, was stabbed in the legs (‘he has marks on his right foot’, according to the commission’s document). He also had cigarette burns on various parts of his body, and alcohol (ethanol) was thrown in his eyes. After a few weeks mother and son accepted the advice of an aunt and left the village. One night, the woman announced to her son that she ‘had to give him something’, but died a few hours later and, explained the youth, he was never to learn ‘what his mother had wanted to give him’. Helped by a ‘white lady’ the youth then went to Accra. In the market one day, he chanced to meet the widower of the woman who had been their tenant, who accused him publicly of witchcraft and attacked him. He escaped miraculously and took refuge in a police station. Realizing that, like his mother, he too was now suspected of witchcraft, he then decided to abandon the country and reached Italy. The reason he was not given the status of a refugee, but only humanitarian protection (due to his young age) is expressed in these terms: Given … that every fear seems to be essentially subjective and not tied to a condition of real and effective physical threat, but only of baleful foreboding. Considering the lack of plausibility and the disproportionate nature of the fear provide no elements for considering the fear of persecution in the sense of art 1 (A) of the Geneva Convention of 1951 … the commission has unanimously decided not to grant international protection.’ The cases here reported come from the archive of the Frantz Fanon Center (Turin), a center devoted to healing of (and research on) immigrants with mental disorders and asylumseekers; see note 3.


Roberto Beneduce

15. Warnier suggests we should ‘not emulate the Pentecostalists and not give Africa the dubious privilege of being simply a theatre of shadows without depth and unserious where everything – power, work, production, economy – is acted out of sight’ (2017: 125–126). 16. ‘La restitution ethnographique qu’il pratique est si fidèle aux expressions de la langue – le ‘camfranglais’ –, à la scénographie urbaine, aux lieux et aux acteurs, qu’elle me replonge dans les quartiers de Yaoundé où j’ai vécu pendant plusieurs années. Et pourtant je ne m’y retrouve pas. Je suis frappé de dissonance cognitive pour ce qui est de la sorcellerie. Dans le Cameroun que je connais, la crise sorcellaire fait partie des aléas de l’existence, tout comme les accidents de rue à Paris, qui n’affectent que de manière lointaine la banalité et le pragmatisme du quotidien de tout un chacun. Par contraste, à en croire E. Galland, les habitants de Yaoundé se représentent leur environnement et en parlent comme d’une réalité mixte, un monde dans lequel toute activité pratique posséderait une doublure, comme celle d’un manteau’. 17. ‘Comment se fait-il que Jane Guyer ne trouve aucune allusion à des pratiques occultes, alors que d’autres, enquêtant sur celles-ci, en trouvent des traces au cœur des imaginaires de l’activité économique?’ 18. In another work, Guyer writes: ‘Ethnography, experience and theory all suggest that there are societies that routinely foster charisma, not only routinizing it after it has been created by natural or mystical forces outside of the social order.’ (1996: 10; my emphasis). 19. We should bear in mind that Gramsci’s sense of the term underlines inconsistency and heterogeneity: the ‘subalterns’ are not a homogeneous group, they have no shared morality, and there is nothing to stop them from acting violently against and exploiting other subjects who are more subaltern and more powerless. Their behaviours and their choices, their ‘tactics’ (de Certeau 1988: XIX), exclude no choice and no position. And, as I argue in this chapter, there is no doubt that they often practice a particular form of ‘tradition of invention’, to borrow Guyer’s (1996) words. 20. For a critique of the misuse and proliferation of the diagnostic category of PTSD for refugees and contexts of violence, see Beneduce 2010a; Summerfield 2001. 21. This is borne out, for example, by the use of what is known as ‘Language Analysis for Determination of Origin’ (LADO), which, during the hearings of the territorial commissions, is used in many countries to identify features that indicate the region or country of the asylum-seeker’s socialization. Linguists are cautious over this, which is an eloquent indicator of the possible misuse of such a tool, becoming an analysis of semantic and phonetic traces etc that can reveal any lies (Arends et al. 2004). The shift towards what seems like a liturgy of the probable (‘it is possible, likely, highly likely, highly unlikely’) and the authors’ suggested comparison with the certainty provided by fingerprinting or DNA, suggest that the hearings operate within the boundaries of a shared obsession with identification. 22. The role of anthropologists as consultants invited to express an opinion on the nature of the lesions or scars exhibited deserves some attention to interpret this new expression of applied anthropology. For example, the Laboratory of Anthropology and Forensic Dentistry at Milan University not only has the decisive task of identifying the corpses of immigrants who have drowned in the Mediterranean, but has also been involved for some time now in in the project of determining the ethnic group of an asylum-seeker ‘of African or Middle-Eastern origin’ from the lesions, scars or ‘alterations’ on his body. In some ways this is an unexpected development of the system described by About in the colonies. 23. On this concept, which became famous in the time of Mobutu in DRC, see Devisch (1988).

The ‘Return of Culture’


24. ‘Cultures can no longer be bulldozed by the global forces of modernity. Increasingly, cultures are refusing to sing their swansongs and bow out of the world stage to enter the textbooks of history. Indeed, cultures have now begun to return, like Freud’s unconscious, to haunt the modern system of nation-states’ (Nandy 2003: 2).

References About, I. 2011a. ‘Identités indigènes et police coloniale: L’introduction de l’anthropométrie judiciaire en Algérie, 1890–1910’, in P. Plaza (ed.), Aux origines de la police scientifique: Alphonse Bertillon, précurseur de la science du crime. Paris: Karthala, pp. 280-301. About, I. 2011b. ‘Surveillance des identités et régime colonial en Indochine, 1890–1912’. Crimino corpus, 23 Mai 2011, retrieved 20 March 2012 from https:// Arends, J. et al. 2004. ‘Guidelines for the use of Language Analysis in Relation to Questions of National Origin in Refugee Cases’, Speech, Language and the Law 11(2): 261–266. Beneduce, R. 2008. ‘Undocumented Bodies, Burned Identities. Refugees, “Sans Papier”, Harraga: When Things Fall Apart’, Social Science Information/Information sur les sciences sociales 47(4): 505–527.  . 2010a. Archeologie del trauma: Un’antropologia del sottosuolo. Rome: Laterza.  . 2010b. Corpi e saperi indocili: Stregoneria, potere e guarigione in Camerun. Turin: Bollati Boringhieri.  . 2011. ‘La tormenta onirica: Fanon e le radici di un’etnopsichiatria critica’, in F. Fanon (ed.), Decolonizzare la follia: Scritti sulla psichiatria coloniale. Verona: Ombre Corte, pp. 7–70.  . 2014. Symptômes, mensonges, crypto-biographies: L’écriture de l’inquiétude chez les immigrés, in C. Canut and C. Mazauric (eds), La migrations prise aux mots: Mise en récits et en images des migrations transafricaines. Paris: Le Cavalier Bleu, pp. 243–259.  . 2015. ‘The Moral Economy of Lying: Subjectcraft, Narrative Capital, and Uncertainty in the Politics of Asylum’, Medical Anthropology: Cross-Cultural Studies in Health and Healing 34(6): 551–571.  . 2016. Le théâtre de la guérison entre images de combat et rédemption du passé, ou du désir de soigner, in G. Séraphin (ed.), L’Afrique d’Eric de Rosny. Paris: Karthala, pp. 29–46.  . 2018. ‘Une nouvelle bataille de vérité: Discours sorcellaires, cicatrices corporelles et régimes de crédibilité dans les droits d’asile’, Cahiers d’Études Africaines LVIII(231/232): 763–792. Berti, D, A. Good and G. Tarabout (eds.). 2015. Of Doubt and Proof: Ritual and Legal Practices of Judgment. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing. Bohmer, C., and A. Schumer. 2007. ‘Producing Epistemologies of Ignorance in the Political Asylum Application Process’, Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 14(5): 603–629.  . 2018. Political Asylum Deceptions: The Culture of Suspicion. New York: Palgrave/MacMillan.


Roberto Beneduce

Bouju, J., and B. Martinelli (eds). 2012. Sorcellerie, violence et pouvoir en Afrique. Paris: Karthala. Campbell, N.D. 2004. ‘Technologies of Suspicion: Coercion and Compassion in Post-disciplinary Surveillance Regimes’, Surveillance & Society 21(1): 78–92. Camus, D. 1988. Pouvoirs sorciers: Enquête sur les pratiques actuelles de la sorcellerie. Paris: Imago. Cassin, B. 2014. Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Cavazzini, A. 2009. ‘L’archive, la trace, le symptôme. Remarques sur la lecture des archives’, L’Atelier du Center de recherches historiques, 14 October 2009, retrieved 10 January 2016 from Ceriana Mayneri, A. 2014. Sorcellerie et prophétisme en Centrafrique: L’imaginaire de la dépossession en pays banda. Paris: Karthala. Clavérie E. 2018. ‘Les combattants, les fétiches et le prétoire: Le procès de Germain Katanga devant la Cour pénale internationale’, Cahiers d’Études africaines, LVIII, 3–4 (231–232): 699–735. Clifford, J. 1988. The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Comaroff, J., and J.L. Comaroff (eds). 1999. Modernity and its Malcontents: Ritual and Power in Postcolonial Africa. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Comaroff, J.L., and J. Comaroff. 2001. ‘On Personhood: An Anthropological Perspective from Africa’, Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture 7(2): 267–283. Danstrøm, M.S., and Z. Whyte. 2019. ‘Narrating Asylum in Camp and at Court’, in N. Gill and A. Good (eds), Asylum Determination in Europe Ethnographic Perspectives. Bristol: Palgrave Socio-legal Studies, pp. 175–193. Das, V. 2007. ‘Commentary: Trauma and Testimony: Between Law and Discipline.’ Ethos, 35(3): 330–335. De Boeck, F. 2005. ‘The Divine Seed: Children, Gift and Witchcraft in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’, in F. De Boeck and A. Honwana (eds), Makers and Breakers: Children and Youth in Post-colonial Africa. Oxford: James Currey, pp. 188–214. De Certeau, M. 1988. The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University Press.  . 1997. The Culture in the Plural. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. De Genova, N. 2004. ‘The Legal Production of Mexican/Immigrant “Illegality”’, Latino Studies 2: 160–185.  . 2013. ‘Spectacles of Migrant “Illegality”: The Scene of Exclusion, the Obscene of Inclusion’, Ethnic and Racial Studies 36 (7): 1180–1198. De Martino, E. 2015 [1958]. Magic: A Theory from the South [English translation by D. Zinn]. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (HAU Books).  . 2016 [1977]. La fin du monde: Essai sur les apocalypses culturelles [French translation by G. Charuty, Daniel Fabre, M. Massenzio]. Paris: EHESS. Deleuze, G., and F. Guattari. 1983. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.  . 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

The ‘Return of Culture’


Derrida, J. 1995. Archives Fever: A Freudiam Impression. Chicago and London: The Chicago University Press. De Rosny, E. 1981. Les yeux de ma chèvre: Sur les pas des maîtres de la nuit. Paris: Plon.  . (ed.). 2005. Justice et sorcellerie. Paris: Karthala. Devisch, R. 1998. ‘La violence à Kinshasa, ou l’institution en négatif’, Cahiers d’études africaines 38(150–152): 441–469. Douglas, M. 1992. Risk and Blame: Essays in Cultural Theory. London and New York: Routledge. Ellis, E., and G. ter Haar, 2007. ‘Religion and Politics: Taking African Epistemologies Seriously’, The Journal of Modern African Studies 45(3): 385–401. Evans-Pritchard, E.E. 1937. Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Fancello, S. (ed.) 2015. Penser la sorcellerie en Afrique. Paris: Hermann. Fanon. F. 1965. A Dying Colonialism. New York: Grove Press. Fanon, F., and R. Lacaton. 1955. ‘Conduites d’aveu en Afrique du Nord’, in Comptes rendus du Congrès des médecins aliénistes et neurologues de France et des pays de langue Française (53rd Session, Nice, 5–11 September 1955). Paris: Masson, pp. 657–660. Fassin, D., and E. d’Halluin. 2005. ‘The Truth from the Body: Medical Certificates as Ultimate Evidence for Asylum Seekers’, American Anthropologist 107(4): 597–608. Favret-Saada, J. 1977. Les mots, la mort, les sorts: La sorcellerie dans le Bocage. Paris : Gallimard. Foucault, M. 1980. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972– 1977. C. Gordon, ed. Hertfordshire, UK: The Harvester Press.  . 2003. Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège of France 1975–1976. New York: Picador [English translation by David Macey].  . 2008. The Courage of the Truth (The Government of Self and Others II): Lectures at the Collège de France, 1983–1984. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Fuss, D. 1995. Identification Papers: Readings on Psychoanalysis, Sexuality, and Culture. New York: Routledge. Geschiere, P. 1997. The Modernity of Witchcraft: Politics and the Occult in Postcolonial Africa. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.  . 2013. Witchcraft, Intimacy, and Trust: Africa in Comparison. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Gibson, N.C., and R. Beneduce. 2017. Frantz Fanon, Psychiatry and Politics. New York: Rowman & Littlefield. Ginzburg, C. 1980. ‘Morelli, Freud and Sherlock Holmes: Clues and Scientific Method’, History Workshop 9: 5–36. Gluckman, M. (ed.). 1972. The Allocation of Responsibility. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Good, A. 2004. ‘Undoubtedly an Expert? Anthropologists in British Asylum Courts’, The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 10(1): 113–133.  . 2007. Anthropology and Expertise in the Asylum Courts. London: Routledge-Cavendish. Good, A., D. Berti and G. Tarabout. 2015. ‘Introduction: Technologies of Doubt in Law and Ritual’, in D. Berti, A. Good and G. Tarabout (eds), Of Doubt and Proof: Ritual and Legal Practices of Judgment. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, pp. 1–18.


Roberto Beneduce

Graeber, D. 2005. ‘Fetishism and Social Creativity, or Fetishes Are Gods in the Process of Construction,’ Anthropological Theory 5(4): 407–438. Guattari, F. 2000. The Three Ecologies. London: The Athlone Press. Guha, R. 1997. Dominance without Hegemony: History and Power in Colonial India. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Guyer, J.I. (ed.). 1987. Feeding African Cities: Essays in Regional Social History. London: Manchester University Press/IAI.  . 1993. ‘Wealth in People and Self-Realisation in Equatorial Africa’, Man 28(2): 243–65.  . 1995. ‘Wealth in People, Wealth in Things. Introduction,’ Journal of African History, 36(1): 83–90.  . 1996. ‘Traditions of Invention in Equatorial Africa,’ African Studies Review 39(3): 1–28. Hacking, I. 2004. Historical Ontology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Inda, J.X. 2006. Targeting Immigrants: Government, Technology and Ethics. Malden, MA and Oxford: Backwell Publishing. Jackson, M. 1990. ‘The Man Who Turned into an Elephant: Shape-shifting among the Kuranko of Sierra Leone’, in M. Jackson and I. Karp (eds), Personhood and Agency: The Experience of Self and Others in African Cultures. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, pp. 59–78. Laburthe-Tolra, P. 1981. Les seigneurs de la forêt: Essai sur le passé historique, l’organisation sociale et les normes éthiques des anciens beti du Cameroun. Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne.  . 1985. Initiations et sociétés secrètes au Cameroun: Essai sur la religion beti. Paris: Karthala. La Capra, D. 1985. History and Criticism. Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press. Lambo, T.A. 1956. ‘Neuropsychiatric Observations in the Western Regions of Nigeria,’ British Medical Journal 15: 1388–1394. Lorenzini, D., and M. Tazzioli. 2018. ‘Confessional Subjects and Conducts of Non-Truth: Foucault, Fanon, and the Making of the Subject,’ Theory, Culture & Society 35(1): 71–90. Lovejoy, P.E., and F. Talola (eds). 2003. Pawnship, Slavery, and Colonialism in Africa, Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press Inc. Malkki, L. 1995. ‘Refugees and Exile: From ‘Refugee Studies’ to the National Order of Things’, Annual Review of Anthropology 24: 495–523. Mallart-Guimera, L. 1981. Ni dos ni ventre: Religion, magie et sorcellerie evuzok. Paris: Société d’Ethnographie. Mbembe, A. 2006. ‘La colonie: son petit secret et sa part maudite’, Politique africaine 102: 101–127. Mead, M. 1962. ‘The Social Responsibility of the Anthropologist: The Second Article in a Series on the Social Responsibility of Scholarship’, The Journal of Higher Education 33(1): 1–12. Mead, M., E.D. Chapple and G. Gordon Brown. 1949. ‘Report of the Committee on Ethics’, Human Organization 8(2): 20–21. Meyer, B. 2009. ‘Response to Ter Haar and Ellis’, Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 79(3): 413–415.

The ‘Return of Culture’


Mgbako, C., and K. Glenn. 2011. ‘Witchcraft Accusations and Human Rights: Case Studies from Malawi’, The George Washington International Law Review 43(3): 389–417. Mills, C.W. 1997. The Racial Contract. Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press. Nandy, A. 2003. The Romance of Nation State and the Fate of Dissent in the Tropics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ortner, S. 1995. ‘Resistance and the Problem of Ethnographic Refusal’, Society for Comparative Study of Society and History 37(1): 173–193. Pandolfo, S. 2018. Knot of the Soul. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Porot, A.A. 1918. ‘Notes de psychiatrie musulmane’, Annales médico-psychologiques 64(9): 377–384. Rancière, J. 2004. ‘Who Is the Subject of the Rights of Man?’, The South Atlantic Quarterly 103(2/3): 297–310. Ranger, T.O. 2007. ‘Scotland Yard in the Bush: Medicine Murders, Child Witches and the Construction of the Occult: A Literature Review’, Africa: The Journal of the International African Institute 77(2): 272–283. Rosaldo R. 1989. Culture & Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis. Boston: Bacon Press. Schnoebelen, J. 2009. Witchcraft Allegations, Refugee Protection and Human Rights: A Review of the Evidence, Policy Development and Evaluation Service, UNHCR, Research Paper No. 169. Segato, R.L. 1998. ‘The Color-Blind Subject of Myth; Or Where to Find Africa in the Nation’, Annual Review of Anthropology 27: 129–151.  . 2015. La crítica de la colonialidad en ocho ensayos y una antropología por demanda. Buenos Aires: Prometeo, 2015. Stoler, A.L. 2009. Along the Archival Grain: Thinking through Colonial Ontologies. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. Taliani, S. 2012. ‘Coercion, Fetishes and Suffering in the Daily Lives of Young Nigerian Women in Italy’, Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 82(4): 579–608.  . 2017. ‘Femmes nigérianes déplacées, filles à la merci.  Sur les usages de l’ethnopsychiatrie’, in A. Ceriana Mayneri (ed.), Entre errances et silences: Ethnographier des souffrances et des violences ordinaires. Louvain-la-Neuve: Academia-L’Harmattan, pp. 65–98. Taussig, M. 1984. ‘Culture of Terror-Space of Death: Roger Casement’s Putumayo Report and the Explanation of Torture’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 26(3): 467–497. ter Haar, G., and S. Ellis. 2009. ‘The Occult Does Not Exist: A Response to Terence Ranger’, Africa: The Journal of the International African Institute 79(3): 399–412. Van Dijk, R. 2001. ‘“Voodoo” on the Doorstep: Young Nigerian Prostitutes and Magic Policing in the Netherlands’, Africa: The Journal of the International African Institute 71(4): 558–586. van der Watt, M., and B. Kruger. 2017. ‘Exploring “Juju” and Human Trafficking: Towards a Demystified Perspective and Response’, South African Review of Sociology 48(2): 70–86.


Roberto Beneduce

Viveiros de Castro, E. 2015. ‘Who Is Afraid of the Ontological Wolf? Some Comments on an Ongoing Anthropological Debate’, The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology 33(1): 2–17. Warnier J.-P. 2017. ‘Ceci n’est pas un sorcier. De l’effet Magritte en sorcellerie’, Politique africaine 146(2): 125–141. Werbner R.P. 1972. ‘Sin, Blame, and Ritual Mediation’, in M. Gluckman (ed.), The Allocation of Responsibility. Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp. 227–256. West, H. 2007. Ethnographic Sorcery. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Whyte, Z. 2015. ‘In Doubt: Documents as Fetishes in the Danish Asylum System’, in B. Berti, A. Good and G. Tarabout (eds.), Of Doubt and Proof: Ritual and Legal Practices of Judgement. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 141–162. Yengo, P. 2016. Les mutations sorcières dans le Bassin du Congo. Du ventre et de sa politique. Paris: Karthala.


A About, I., 204–5, 226n22 accountability, 9–10. See also individual responsibility/accountability human rights approach to, 142 of international actors and donors, 42, 48, 51, 52–54, 58n6 responsibility compared with, 3 ACT. See antiretroviral therapy Adler, Alfred, 36n2 agency of civil servants, 68 CSR impacts on worker, 13, 134–35 family planning discourse and, 92, 97–98, 104–5 Pentecostal view of, 164–68, 171, 173, 176, 177, 178n4 World Bank promotion of, 67–68 AIBEF. See Association Ivoirenne pour le Bien-Être Familial AIDS, 1, 113. See also HIV; HIV programmes Akrou, Jean-Baptiste, 102–3 Algeria, 25, 204, 205, 218–19 ambiguity in colonization responses, 32 in DRC international engagement, 41–42 moral, of post-colonial state, 33–35 in state officials/civil servants role, 12, 63, 72–73, 74–76 in witchcraft practices and beliefs, 181, 185, 187, 195

ambivalence, 14, 35, 58n8 Anglo American/Anglo Platinum apartheid economic power of, 115 BEE compliance division of, 116 HIV programmes of, 13, 113, 114–15, 117–27, 131–34 insurance systems, 129 job loss/inability impact on care responsibility of, 116–17, 131–34 subcontracted labour at, 128–29, 135 anthropology/anthropologists, 224n10 asylum-seeking process role of, 11, 15–16, 202–3, 207, 210–12, 215, 217–22, 223nn4–5, 224nn8–9 witchcraft discourse on, 9, 185–86, 209–10, 211–12, 216 antiretroviral therapy (ART), 116–20, 131–34. See also HIV programmes apartheid Anglo American economic power during, 115 Group Area Act legislation under, 141, 156n2 labour policies under, 119, 134 paternalism legacy of, 136n4 ART. See antiretroviral therapy Association Ivoirenne pour le Bien-Être Familial (AIBEF), 84–87 asylum seekers anthropologist role in process of, 11, 15–16, 202–3, 207, 210–12, 215, 217–22, 223nn4–5, 224nn8–9


colonialism influence on process for, 202–3, 220–21 ‘epistemology of ignorance’ in process for, 200–201 experience translation obstacles with, 211–13, 215–17 identification paradigm and techniques with, 205–6, 210, 219, 220, 226n21 persecution forms for, 200, 207, 212– 13, 225n13 process complexity for, 199–200 suspicion around, 200–201, 202, 223n1 violence evidence verification with, 218–19, 226n22 witchcraft and rituals role for, 15, 202, 206–20, 222 autonomy Pentecostal view of, 165, 166, 168, 170–72 for persons with disabilities, 145, 149, 155 in society principles, 6, 34, 141 B Balandier, Georges, 9 Bärhe, Erik, 154 Bédié, Henri Konan, 87, 88, 103, 106 BEE. See Black Economic Empowerment belonging, forms of, 21, 23, 26 Bergson, Henri, 23, 28, 31 Berry, Sarah, 25 Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), 115–16 Bockie, Simon, 184 Boko Haram, 26, 34, 215 Bonnecase, Vincent, 33 born-again Christians. See Pentecostal– Charismatic Christianity Braudel, Fernand, 11, 23 C Cameroon, 34, 183, 188, 192–94, 214. See also Maka people


Cape Town. See Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town capitalism global scope and expansion of, 13, 22, 24 human care conflated with, 113–15, 117, 118–23, 127 rational-legal character of, 27, 31 slavery relation with, 28 care. See healthcare; human care Carrick, Chris, 131 Catholicism, 95, 98, 183 Chandler, David, 51, 54 Chateauraynaud, Francis, 17n3 Chinese immigrants, 205–6 Christianity. See Pentecostal– Charismatic Christianity citizenship, 24, 34, 46, 86–87, 93, 103–5 civil service. See state officials/civil servants clans, 36nn2–3 Clavérie, E., 206–7 colonialism/colonial period ambiguity in responses to, 32 asylum policies influenced by, 202–3, 220–21 civil service succession from, 65 Congo management under, 55–56 CSR forms under, 8 dependency discourse and mythology of, 23, 29 durations concept impacted by, 31 forced labour of, 27, 182, 183 identity control and registration approaches in, 203–6, 220 on immigration/immigrants, 204–6 labour policies of, 7–9, 27, 134, 182, 183 mining industry of, 7–8 moral discourses of, 203–4 nation-state adoption from, 22–23, 24–25 in nation-state governance, role of, 29–30, 31, 32 paternalism legacy from, 7–8, 124–25, 130–31


population policies under, 100, 107, 204–5, 206 social relations and mobility control under, 204 witchcraft influenced by, 189–90 Comaroff, John and Jean, 203–4, 206, 209 commercial zones, 25, 26–27, 30 community, 5, 9. See also international actors/community; mining hostels; social relations Congo, 7–9, 55–56. See also Democratic Republic of Congo conservation, 68–73, 79–80, 80nn3–4, 81n11 Cooper, Frederick, 40–41 corporate care. See HIV programmes; human care Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) benevolent tyranny of, 13, 134–35 colonial forms of, 8 dehumanization with, 134–35 donor funds leveraged for, 116 enlightened self-interest aspect of, 13–14, 122, 124–25, 127, 134 HIV management as, 13, 113, 114–15, 121, 122–23 human capital treatment under, 114–15, 134–35 mining industry agenda of and benefits from, 8, 9, 10, 17n2, 116, 129, 131, 134 moral space demarcation and, 123 paternalistic worker management relation to, 117, 122–25 SAPs concern for, 22 scientific workforce management aspect of, 124–25 South African BEE movement relation with, 115–16 worker agency impacted by, 13, 134–35 worker dependents/family exclusion from, 129, 131, 134 corporations. See also mining/extractive industry


community support responsibility of, 9 empowerment conflict with paternalism of, 124, 135 government corruption role of multinational, 35 healthcare policies and resources of, 13–14, 113–14, 116, 117, 121–22 Côte d’Ivoire Bédié government in, 87, 88, 103, 106 ethno-nationalism in, 13, 87–88, 103, 105–6 family planning campaigns in, 12–13, 84–89, 101, 104–7 fertility rates in, 101 immigration/immigrants in, 88, 100, 105 population policy in, 87–88, 99–107 population statistics, 88, 100–101 pro-natalist stance in, 88, 99–100, 101 SAPs impact in, 88, 102 state paternalism in, 106–7 CRPD. See United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities CSR. See corporate social responsibility currency, 27, 136n3 D Danstrøm, M. S., 200 decentralisation, 42, 45, 144, 192, 193 de Martino, Ernesto, 211–12, 216–17, 220 Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 58n8 armed forces reform in, 46 civil service reforms in, 45 decentralization efforts in, 42, 45 democratization efforts in, 41–42, 43, 45, 49 development programmes/funding in, 46, 52–53 donor relations and responsibility in, 12, 21, 40–46, 48–51, 53–57, 57n5 economic policy influencers in, 43, 44 elections legitimacy agenda in, 44–45, 50



international actors/community influence in, 40–57 M23 rebel movement in, 49 mining reform efforts in, 42, 43–44, 45–46 MONUSCO role in, 43, 48–49, 52 Pentecostal beliefs and practices in Kinshasa, 160–77 phases of political in, 48–51 power consolidation efforts in, 11–12, 40, 44–45 reform efforts in, 42, 43–44, 45–46, 49–50 shared responsibility rhetoric of international actors in, 41, 47–48, 50, 51, 53 sovereignty relation to external partners, 40–41, 42, 46–48, 49–50 sovereignty uses in, 51–54 UN relations with, 40, 43, 48–49, 52, 53 World Bank influence in, 43, 44, 52 democratization, 33, 41–42, 43, 45, 49 dependency colonial era and mythology of, 23, 29 in family planning, role of, 90, 99 as form of action, 29, 30 on international actors, 10, 14 development. See also structural adjustment programmes Cameroon land, international actors in, 193–94 in Cape Town post-apartheid, 141 DRC programmes for, 46, 52–53 fertility relation to, discourses on, 92, 94, 97, 99, 100, 102 liberalism in programmes of, 53 neoliberalism in, paradoxes of, 194–95, 196n7 slavery discourse relation to, 27 De Vries, Hugo, 48–49 Dilemma (television show), 164, 172–76, 178n8 disabilities, persons with autonomy for, 145, 149, 155 behaviour expectations for, 148–49 care expectations for, 13–14, 141, 155

case studies of, 149–54 claims legitimacy issues for, 143, 151 drug use by, 148–49, 153 empowerment of, 142, 143, 144–45, 155 family responsibility for, 13–14, 141, 142, 144, 149–54, 155–56 gendered views of, 146–47, 148 government responsibility for, 141, 142–46, 155 individual responsibility/fault attributed to, 141–42, 146–47 political rights of, 144–45 redemption for, 147–48, 153 residential arrangements for, 150–51 South Africa legislative framework for, 140, 141, 142–46, 149 violence role for, 141, 146–47, 156 welfare programmes for, 13–14, 143–46, 156n3 discipline, 7, 103–4, 107, 123 donors, 1 accountability of, 42, 48, 51, 52–54, 58n6 CSR programmes leveraging funds from, 116 in DRC, role and influence of, 12, 21, 40–46, 48–51, 53–57, 57n5 good governance programmes of, 10, 42, 46, 48 of mining industry human care programmes, 116 in Mozambique, role and influence of, 12, 63–64, 66–70, 72–75, 78–80 negotiations between recipients and, 21–22 shared responsibility rhetoric with, 41, 47–48, 50, 51, 53 state officials role and relationship with, 12, 63, 68, 70, 78, 79–80, 81n7 workers remuneration from, 57n5 DRC. See Democratic Republic of Congo durations (durées), 2, 22–29, 31 Durkheim, Émile, 4 Dyula, 88–89, 105–6


E economic policy, 34, 43, 44, 57n1, 115–16 electoral politics, 1, 44–45, 50, 144–45 Ellis, G., 209–10 empires, 34. See also colonialism/ colonial period asylum seeking and legacy of, 202–3 identification control origins with, 204–6, 220 nation-state connection and contrast to, 24–25, 28, 31 empowerment corporate paternalism conflict with, 124, 135 family planning and women’s, 13, 86, 96, 99 of persons with disabilities, 142, 143, 144–45, 155 South African movements for, 115–16 ethics, 3, 5, 6, 7, 17n1 ethnic identity, 22, 88–89, 105–6, 107 ethnocentrism, 5–6 ethno-nationalism, 13, 87–88, 103, 105–6 Evans-Pritchard, Edward, 9 Ewald, F., 6 expectations, 2, 4, 8 in family planning, role of, 90, 93, 99 international community impact on, 9 of paternalism in South Africa, 135, 136n4 for persons with disabilities behaviour, 148–49 persons with disabilities responsibility, 13–14, 141, 155 of SAPs, 22 for state and citizen relations, 24, 46 extractive industry. See mining/ extractive industry F family, 7, 11, 196n4 CSR exclusionary policies for worker, 129, 131, 134 debt and credit in generational relations, 90, 99, 105


lineages role in nation-state, 24–25 Maka beliefs on responsibility for/ with, 180–81, 183, 184 modern, promotion of, 8, 13 persons with disabilities and responsibility of, 13–14, 141, 142, 144, 149–54, 155–56 solidarity and conflict relation in, 154 family planning and reproductive health, 36n9 agency in discourse on, 92, 97–98, 104–5 AIBEF campaign on, 84–87 Catholic influences in, 95, 98 citizenship relation with, 86–87, 93, 104–5 Côte d’Ivoire campaigns on, 12–13, 84–89, 101, 103–7 dependency role in, 90, 99 ethnicities and nationalities targeted for, 88–89, 105–6, 107 expectations role in, 90, 93, 99 good governance relation to, 86, 107 human rights discourse inclusion of, 95–96, 97–98, 103–4, 106–7 ICPD and new discourse on, 84–85, 89, 94–97, 98–99, 103 international influences on, 84, 96–97, 101 Malthusian view in, 85, 90–91, 92, 98, 102, 105, 107 moral subjectivation in discourse on, 85–86, 88, 93, 97–98, 107 neoliberalism impact on, 13, 97, 104– 5, 107 population policies relation to, 87–88, 93, 102 priorities and keywords in, 97–99, 103 women’s empowerment in discourses on, 13, 86, 96, 99 Fanon, Frantz, 218–19, 221 Fauconnet, Paul, 4–5 Ferguson, James, 64, 135 fertility, 36n9. See also family planning and reproductive health


in Africa, approach traditionally to, 89–90, 92 Côte d’Ivoire rates of, 101 development relation to, discourses on, 92, 94, 97, 99, 100, 102 natural and controlled, debates on, 90–92, 107 fetishes, 201, 206–7, 218, 220 Foucault, Michel on apparatuses, 96–97 on liberalism, 92–93 on parrhēsia, 210 on power and action relation, 29 on responsibility, 4, 6, 7, 10, 199, 210, 220 on technologies of self, 92, 169, 170, 178n3 Frelimo. See Mozambique Liberation Front G Gendreau, Francis, 99–100, 101–2 Gluckmann, Max, 184–85 governance colonialism impact on nation-state, 29–30, 31, 32 co-production in DRC, 11, 40–41, 42, 43–45, 50 corruption in contemporary, 34–35 donors programmes of good, 10, 42, 46, 48 family planning responsibility relation to good, 86, 107 human care and pharmaceutical, 114 major questions of, 28 moral ambiguity in, 33–35 neoliberal principles of, 13, 31 government. See nation-state; state officials/civil servants; specific governments government/state responsibility liberalism and, 6–7 limits of, 3 for persons with disabilities, 141, 142–46, 155 plurality for, 9–10 for welfare programmes, 144, 145–46


Group Area Act legislation, 141, 156n2 Guyer, Jane, 25, 26, 33, 214, 215, 226n18 H Hacking, Ian, 208 Harrison, Graham, 42 healers, 165, 184, 186–88, 190, 216, 217 healthcare. See also family planning and reproductive health; HIV programmes corporate programmes of, 13–14, 113–14, 116, 117, 121–22 DRC donor aid for workers in, 57n5 national system of, 129 Henry, Louis, 91 Hibou, Beatrice, 192–93 historical durations. See durations historical terroir, 28–29, 30, 32, 34 HIV, 114–15, 118–19, 133–34 HIV programmes CSR agenda in, 13, 113, 114–15, 121, 122–23 empowerment discourse on, 124 food and nutrition under, 124–25 health decline and loss of, 131–32 job loss impacts in mining industry, 116–17, 118, 131–34 mining executives cost-benefit assessments of, 119–20, 125–26 mining industry, 13, 113, 114–27, 131–34 moral demarcations in, 126–27 paternalism with, 117 rationales for corporate, 114–15, 119–20, 125–27 UN on corporate, 121 Hobsbawm, Eric, 26 Houphouët-Boigny, Felix, 88, 100, 101, 103–4, 107 human capital, 130–31 CSR treatment of, 114–15, 134–35 human care conflation with shareholder value and, 113–15, 117, 118–23, 127 human care. See also healthcare; HIV programmes


enlightened self-interest aspect of corporate, 13–14, 122, 124–25, 127, 134 human capital and shareholder value conflation with, 113–15, 117, 118– 23, 127 paternalistic worker management relation to, 117, 122–25, 130–31, 135 pharmaceutical governance and, 114 human rights 1993 conference on, 94 in reproductive education and health discourse, 95–96, 97–98, 103–4, 106–7 rituals and, 208–9, 218–19 in WPRPD approach, 142, 145 Hund, John, 187, 188 I ICPD. See International Conference on Population and Development identity, 225n12 asylum seekers and verification of, 205–6, 210, 219, 220, 226n21 colonial control and registration of, 203–6, 220 ethnic, 22, 88–89, 105–6, 107 Houphouettist view of social, 103–4 post-colonial focus on forms of social, 22 space-time dimensions of social, 26 subaltern, 36n3, 90, 105, 211–12, 217, 226n19 Iliffe, John, 89 IMF. See International Monetary Fund immigration/immigrants. See also asylum seekers Chinese, to Africa, 205–6 colonial polices on, 204–6 in Côte d’Ivoire, 88, 100, 105 identification paradigm and techniques with, 205–6, 210, 219, 220, 226n21 Italian policies for, 223n2, 225n14 security discourse about, 105–6 individual responsibility/ accountability, 6, 12–13, 17n3. See also agency; autonomy


Pentecostal view of, 161–64, 176 persons with disabilities and attributions of, 141–42, 146–47 insurance systems, 3, 6, 129, 146 international actors/community, 116. See also donors accountability of, 42, 48, 51, 52–54, 58n6 dependency on, 10, 14 in DRC politics, role of, 40–57 expectations impacted by, 9 family planning influence from, 84, 96–97, 101 Kabila, J., relations with, 40, 43, 44–45, 48, 49 in land development of Cameroon, 193–94 liberal interventionism of, 48 in Mozambique, role and influence of, 12, 63–64, 66–70, 72–75, 78–80 population policies influence from, 87–88, 99–100 shared responsibility rhetoric with, 41, 47–48, 50, 51, 53 sovereignty relation to aid from, 47–48 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) (1994), 84–85, 89, 94–97, 98–99, 103 International Monetary Fund (IMF), 43, 44 Islam, 30, 36n3, 106 Issa, Saïbou, 34 Italy, 211–12, 216–17, 223n2, 225n14 K Kabila, Joseph, 40, 43, 44–45, 48, 49, 57 Kabila, Laurent Désiré, 51 Kessler, Bridget, 121 Kikuyu people, 21 Kinshasa. See Democratic Republic of Congo Kobler, Martin, 52 L labour, 10. See also worker/workforce apartheid-era treatment of, 119, 134 colonial forced, 27, 182, 183


colonial policies on, 7–9, 27, 134, 182, 183 enlightened self-interest view of, 127 HIV prevalence with migratory, 114 migrant, 114, 119, 129–30 in Mozambique, hybrid nature of, 73 South Africa impacted by insecurities of, 135 subcontracted mining, 128–29, 135 Laidlaw, J., 4, 5 legitimacy DRC elections agenda of, 44–45, 50 Frelimo claims of, 62–63 of persons with disabilities claims, 143, 151 regimes of, 23 Lesego, Martha, 132 liberalism, 6–7, 48, 53, 92–93, 145–46. See also neoliberalism LiPuma, Edward, 167–68 Lonmin, 116, 128 Lonsdale, John, 10, 21–22, 30 M M23 rebel movement, 49 Maka people colonial rule of, 182, 183 on family responsibility, 180–81, 183, 184 gendered views of, 180, 185–86 privatisation impacts on, 192–93 responsibility interpretations of, 180–81 witch as martyr story of, 182–85 witchcraft and neoliberalism for, 15, 181, 192–95 witchcraft modern adaptations with major changes of, 189–92 witchcraft practices and beliefs of, 14–15, 180–95, 196n3 Makoe, Elias, 121 Malthusian scheme, 85, 90–91, 92, 98, 102, 105, 107 management CSR and scientific workforce, 124–25 CSR paternalistic, 117, 122–25


mining hostels paternalistic, 123–24, 127–28, 130–31 national park and wildlife, publicprivate partnerships in, 12, 63, 65–66, 69–72, 79 Marikana Massacre, 134–35 market/market actors, 6, 25, 26–27, 28, 30, 57n1 Marxist-Leninist influence, 65–66, 75–76, 98 MDM. See Movimento Democratico de Moçambique memory, 23–24, 27–28, 212, 222 Mende, Lambert, 52 Meyer, Birgit, 196n1, 196n4 migrant labour, 114, 119, 129–30 migrations, 1, 11, 15, 28, 202–3, 206–7. See also asylum seekers; immigration/immigrants; refugees Mills, Charles, 201 mining/extractive industry. See also Anglo American/Anglo Platinum benevolent tyranny of, 13, 134–35 CSR agenda and benefits for, 8, 9, 10, 17n2, 116, 129, 131, 134 CSR exclusionary aspects in, 129, 131, 134 donors funds for human care programmes of, 116 DRC reform efforts in, 42, 43–44, 45–46 health insurance realities in, 129 HIV programmes, cost-benefit assessments of, 119–20, 125–26 HIV programmes in, 13, 113, 114–27, 131–34 HIV protection strategy in 1980s, 118–19 HIV statistics in, 114, 118 human capital and human care conflation in, 113–15, 117, 118–23, 127 human care and enlightened selfinterest of, 13–14, 122, 124–25, 127, 134 job loss impacts on HIV programmes of, 116–17, 118, 131–34


living allowances in, 130 Marikana Massacre and, 134–35 migrant labour treatment in, 129–30 paternalism in care programmes of, 117, 122–25, 130–31, 135 paternalism of colonial, 7–8 peri-mining communities of, 117–18 profits in, 115 subcontracted labour impact in, 128–29, 135 mining hostels conditions of, 123 food and nutrition provided at, 124– 25 managers conflict between residents and executives, 123–24 moral demarcations with, 123, 126– 27, 128–29 options outside of, 130 paternalism and empowerment conflict in, 124 paternalism in management of, 123– 24, 127–28, 130–31 public-personal life boundaries at, 126 security protocols at, 126 Ministry of Tourism (Mozambique) (MITUR), 69–70, 74, 75, 77, 80n4 missionaries, 183, 203–4 Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town family responsibility for persons with disabilities in, 13–14, 141, 142, 144, 149–54, 155–56 government responsibility for persons with disabilities in, 141, 142–46, 155 persons with disabilities case studies in, 149–54 violence and crime in, 141, 146–47 MITUR. See Ministry of Tourism Mogapi, Gilbert, 133 MONUSCO. See United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Moody-Stuart, Mark, 119, 121, 122 Moosa, Zuneid, 131


morality/moral imputation, 3–6 ambiguity in governance, 33–35 in children debt to parents, 90, 99, 105 colonial period discourses of, 203–4 CSR and demarcation of, 123 in family planning discourse, 85–86, 88, 93, 97–98, 107 in HIV programmes, 126–27 mining hostels and demarcations of, 123, 126–27, 128–29 Pentecostal view of agency and, 164–68, 171, 176, 177, 178n4 in persons with disabilities and fault, 147 witchcraft and, 180, 192 moral movement, Pentecostal, 14, 164, 166, 168–69, 172, 176 Movimento Democratico de Moçambique (MDM), 63 Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo), 62–63 Mozambique civil service in post-independence, 65–68 conservation sector civil servants in, 68–70, 80n3, 81n11 Frelimo relation with state officials/ civil servants in, 72–73, 76–78 Frelimo rise to power with liberation of, 62, 65 illiteracy rate in post-independence, 65 international actors/donors role and influence in, 12, 63–64, 66–70, 72–75, 78–80 job security in, 75 Marxist-Leninist influence in, 65–66, 75–76 MITUR in, 69–70, 74, 75, 77, 80n4 national and wildlife management in, 12, 63, 65–66, 69–72, 79 nature legislation in, 69, 80n3 neoliberalism in, 66, 72–73, 196n7 state officials, generational distinctions of, 68–73, 76, 77–78, 79, 81nn5–6


state officials/civil servants and donor relations in, 12, 63, 68, 70, 78, 79–80, 81n7 state officials state-party attachment, 74–78, 79–80 TFCA unit and projects in, 69, 71–72, 73, 79–80, 80n4 veterinary civil service in, 65–66, 68–71, 81n11 Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo), 80 civil servants relation with, 72–73, 76–78 education provided by, 65–66, 76 opposition to, 62–63 rise to power of, 62, 65 multinationals. See corporations; international actors/community N Nandy, Ashish, 222, 226n24 national park and wildlife management, 12, 63, 65–66, 69–72, 79 nation-state. See also state officials/civil servants Africa adoption of colonial, 22–23, 24–25 colonialism impact on governance of, 29–30, 31, 32 empires connection and contrast to, 24–25, 28, 31 expectations for citizenship of, 24, 46 lineages role in, 24–25 paternalism, 106–7 ‘return of cultures’ to, 222, 226n24 rhizome, 24, 34 sovereignty, 12, 30 neoliberalism, 1, 2, 7, 9 in development, paradoxes of, 194– 95, 196n7 family planning impacted by, 13, 97, 104–5, 107 governance principles of, 13, 31 in Mozambique, 66, 72–73, 196n7 witchcraft practices/beliefs impacted by, 15, 181, 192–95


O Obarrio, Juan, 194, 196n7 occult. See rituals; secret societies; witches/witchcraft Ouattara, Alassane Dramane, 88, 101 P Paris Declaration, 52–53, 58n6 paternalism colonial legacy of, 7–8, 124–25, 130– 31 in corporate care programmes, 117, 122–25, 130–31, 135 empowerment conflict with corporate, 124, 135 expectations in South Africa, 135, 136n4 industrial, in Congo, 7–9 in mining hostels management, 123– 24, 127–28, 130–31 in mining industry, 7–8, 117, 122–25, 130–31, 135 state, in Côte d’Ivoire, 106–7 Pentecostal–Charismatic Christianity, 178n6, 225n15 on accountability of individual, 161– 64, 176 agency and morality relation in, 164–68, 171, 176, 177, 178n4 autonomy viewed in, 165, 166, 168, 170–72 confessions and soul healing in, 169–72 consciousness in, process of, 170–71 destiny views in, 167, 171–72 gendered dimensions in, 178n5 individuality and dividuality concepts in, 167–68, 169, 170–72, 176, 177 luck beliefs of, 162, 167, 169, 176, 177 moral movement process in, 14, 164, 166, 168–69, 172, 176 redemption in, 174 rituals in, 169–70, 173, 176 on social responsibilities and impact, 14, 164, 168–69, 172 ‘techniques of the self’ in, 164–65, 169


television serials illustration of responsibility in, 14, 164, 172–76, 178n7 population policies under colonialism, 100, 107, 204–5, 206 in Côte d’Ivoire, 87–88, 99–107 family planning role in, 87–88, 93, 102 ICPD and, 84–85, 89, 94–97, 99, 103 international actors influence in, 87–88, 99–100 post-colonial state/postcoloniality, 15, 22, 24, 29, 33–35 power DRC efforts for consolidation of, 11–12, 40, 44–45 forms and enactments of, 3, 4, 6–9 Foucault on action relation to, 29 privatisation (of the state), 192–93 R R2P. See Responsibility to Protect Ranger, Terence, 26, 209–10, 224n11 redemption, 147–48, 153, 174 refugees, 15, 199, 212, 222. See also asylum seekers regimes of responsibility, definition of, 7 religion, 1, 22, 95, 98, 176, 183, 224n11. See also Pentecostal–Charismatic Christianity Renamo. See Mozambican National Resistance reproductive health and education. See family planning and reproductive health La responsabilité (Fauconnet), 4–5 responsibility/responsibility studies. See also specific topics accountability compared with, 3 changes impacting, 1 overview of approaches to, 2–10 semantic history of, 3–4 Responsibility to Protect (R2P), 47–48, 54 rhizome-state, 24, 34 Ricoeur, Paul, 3 rituals, 26. See also witches/witchcraft


asylum-seeker process and, 15, 202, 206–20, 222 death from, 208 deliverance, 14, 164–65, 171–72, 176 human rights and, 208–9, 218–19 Pentecostal, 169–70, 173, 176 UNHCR documentation on, 207 violence and scarification with, 202, 208, 218–19, 226n22 Roitman, Janet, 34 Rustenburg mines, 115, 120–21, 129, 130, 131–33 S Saharan region commercial zones and market economies in, 25, 26–27, 30 historical durations multidimensionality of, 22–29 slavery legacy in, 27–28 SAPs. See structural adjustment programmes SASSA. See South African Social Security Agency scarification, 202, 208, 218, 219, 226n22 secret societies, 202, 207, 209, 218, 220, 221 slavery/slave trade, 23, 27–28 social contracts, 3, 46 social relations, 3, 7, 9, 10. See also family colonialism control of, 204 Pentecostal beliefs about, 14, 164, 168–69, 172 unemployment role for, 151 South Africa. See also apartheid; Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town ART rollout in, 114 CSR and BEE movements rise in, 115–16 labour insecurities impact in, 135 multiracial democracy in, transition to, 140, 141 National Disability Rights Machinery in, 143, 155 paternalism expectations in, 135, 136n4 racial categories in, 156n1


unemployment role in social bonds in, 151 WPRPD legislative framework in, 140, 141, 142–46, 149 South African Department of Social Development, 140 South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), 152, 156n4 sovereignty, 12, 23, 30 in DRC, uses of, 51–54 of DRC relation to external partners, 40–41, 42, 46–48, 49–50 international aid relation to, 47–48 space-time dimensions, 10–16, 21–22, 26, 31. See also durations spiritual agency, 164–68, 171, 173, 176, 177, 178n4 state officials/civil servants agency of, 68 ambiguity in role of, 12, 63, 72–73, 74–76 in conservation sector in Mozambique, 68–70, 80n3, 81n11 donors relation with Mozambican, 12, 63, 68, 70, 78, 79–80, 81n7 72–73, 76–78 generational distinctions of Mozambican, 68–73, 76, 77–78, 79, 81nn5–6 reforms of, 45, 67 state-party attachment in Mozambique of, 74–78, 79–80 status in Mozambique of, 68, 78–79 succession from colonial period, 65 veterinary, 65–66, 68–71, 81n11 state responsibility. See government/ state responsibility Stoler, A. L., 203 structural adjustment programmes (SAPs), 21–22, 66–67, 88, 102 subalterns, 36n3, 90, 105, 211–12, 217, 226n19 T Taussig, Michael, 27–28 television shows, 14, 164, 172–76, 178n7 ter Haar, G., 209–10


TFCA. See Trans-frontier Conservation Areas time. See durations; space-time dimensions Tonda, Joseph, 189–90 Toulabor, Comi, 187 Touré, Moriba, 106 tourism, 69–71, 74, 75, 77, 80n4 trade networks, 25–26, 28, 57n1 Trans-frontier Conservation Areas (TFCA), 69, 71–72, 73, 79–80, 80n4 U UN. See United Nations UNDP. See United Nations Development Programme UNHCR. See United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees United Nations (UN), 57n2 on corporate HIV programmes, 121 DRC relations with, 40, 43, 48–49, 52, 53 Global Fund budget for mining industry care programmes, 116 ICPD involvement of, 94 Population Fund Conference, 12 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), 140 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 53, 58n7, 196n7 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 207 United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), 43, 48–49, 52 United States Agency for International Development (USAID), 75, 102 V Van Blommestein, J.H.G., 122 veterinary science, 65–66, 68–71, 81n11 Vimard, Patrice, 99–100, 101–2 violence


asylum process verification of, 218– 19, 226n22 persons with disabilities and, 141, 146–47, 156 rise since 1990 in, 1 rituals of scarification and, 202, 208, 218–19, 226n22 Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo, 224n10 voting rights, 144–45 W Warnier, J.P., 213–15, 225n15 Waywell, Matthew, 120–21 Weber, Max, 27, 36n1 welfare programmes, 13–14, 143–46, 156n3. See also HIV programmes; human care welfare state, 6, 17n3 Western Africa region commercial zones and market economies in, 25, 26–27, 30 historical durations multidimensionality of, 22–29 slavery legacy in, 27–28 White Paper for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (WPRPD), 140, 141, 142–46, 149 Whyte, Z., 200 wildlife management. See national park and wildlife management; veterinary science witches/witchcraft, 28 ambiguities, 181, 185, 187, 195 anthropological discourse on, 9, 185–86, 209–10, 211–12, 216 asylum-seeker process and, 15, 202, 206–20, 222 colonialism influence on beliefs/ practices of, 189–90 crises surrounding, 213–14 gendered beliefs about, 185–86 healers relation to, 184, 186–88, 190, 216, 217 Italy practices/beliefs of, 211–12, 216–17, 225n14 Maka people beliefs/practices of, 14–15, 180–95, 196n3


as martyr, example of, 182–85 modern adaptations of, 189–92, 201 morality/moral imputation and, 180, 192 murders associated with, 189 neoliberalism impacts on, 15, 181, 192–95 responsibility/irresponsibility role in, 185–89, 191–92 wealth and success relation with, 184, 188, 190–91, 214–15 Western notions of and influence on, 196n1, 196n3 women Algerian, ritual violence for, 218–19 with disabilities and fault attributions, 146–47 enslavement of, 34 family planning discourses on empowerment of, 13, 86, 96, 99 witches presence blame on, 185–86 worker care. See human care worker/workforce CSR and paternalistic management of, 117, 122–25 CSR and scientific management of, 124–25 CSR exclusion of dependents/family of, 129, 131, 134 CSR impacts on agency of, 13, 134–35 donor remuneration for, 57n5 migrant, under apartheid, 119 paternalistic management of, 117, 122–25, 130–31, 135 subcontractors impact on mining, 128–29, 135 welfare state and responsibility for, 17n3 WORKINMINING research project, 17n4 World Bank agencification promotion by, 67–68 Cameroon development influence of, 193 conservation projects of, 69, 71–72, 73, 79–80, 80n4, 81n11 in DRC, influence of, 43, 44, 52



good governance programmes, 10 World Health Organization, 92, 117, 121 WPRPD. See White Paper for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

X Xorile, Clara, 129