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Title:Dangerous tales: dominant narratives on the Congo and their unintended consequences
Author:Autesserre, SÚverineISNI
Periodical:African affairs: the journal of the Royal African Society (ISSN 0001-9909)
Geographic term:Congo (Democratic Republic of)
human security
Abstract:Explanations for the persistence of violence in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo blame the incendiary actions of domestic and regional leaders, as well as the inefficacy of international peacebuilding efforts. Based on several years of ethnographic research, this article adds another piece to the puzzle, emphasizing the perverse consequences of well-meaning international efforts. It argues that three narratives dominate the public discourse on Congo and eclipse the numerous alternative framings of the situation. These narratives focus on a primary cause of violence, viz. illegal exploitation of mineral resources; a main consequence, viz. sexual abuse of women and girls; and a central solution, viz. extending State authority. The article elucidates why simple narratives are necessary for policymakers, journalists, advocacy groups, and practitioners on the ground, especially those involved in the Congo. The article then considers each narrative in turn and explains how it achieved prominence: it provided straightforward explanations for the violence, suggested feasible solutions to it, and resonated with foreign audiences. The article demonstrate that the focus on these narratives and on the solutions they recommend has led to results that clash with their intended purposes, notably an increase in human rights violations. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]