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MASU presents: Kevin Dunn

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Kevin Dunn on Peeling the Onion: "Sons of the Soil" and local roots of conflict in Eastern DRC

Kevin Dunn, Associate Professor of Political Science, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Jason Stearns noted that the conflict in the Congo is like an onion, with multiple layers and no clear discernible core. Many different attempts have been made to explain the conflict in the DRC, ranging from ethnicity, to greed and resource wars, to the role of colonialism, and each provides useful contributions to the debate. This talk will emphasize the concept of autochthony, which links identity and space, enabling a direct claim to territory by asserting that one is an original inhabitant, a ‘son of the soil’. While acknowledging significance of both regional and international factors, this talk will assert that the conflict in North Kivu is largely an agrarian war, and its root causes must be located in the complex web of uncertainties concerning citizenship and land rights. This is further complicated by the extraction of the valuable minerals that are abundant in this part of the Congo. 

Professor Dunn’s work includes the books Politics of Origin in Africa: Autochthony, Citizenship and Conflict (with Morten Boas, 2013), Inside African Politics (with Pierre Englebert, 2013), African Guerrillas: Raging Against the Machine (with Morten Boas, 2007), Imagining the Congo: The International Relations of Identity (2003) and Africa’s Challenge to International Relations Theory (with Timothy Shaw, 2001). 

Sponsored by the Maxwell African Scholars Union at the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs

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