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When Enemies are Friends - Warfare relations in DRC Congo.

  • Anna Hedlund
Publishing year: 2011
Language: English
Document type: Conference paper

Abstract english

This paper explores wartime relationships and the culture of armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Without exceptions, the crises in the Congo must be framed in local-global correlations, i.e. in terms of criminal network activities and its linkages to mining businesses and exploitation of natural resources. In the eastern DRC the boundaries between the different armed groups and the state have become blurred. Previous enemies have now begun to collaborate for common pursuits; such collaborations are linked to what a global economic shadow market offers. On local level, groups split and from the ashes of such fractions new groups emerge. On ground we find a “gangland” with the national army (FARDC), the (defense) militias (Mai-Mai), and the FDLR, (Rwandese Hutu ex-interahamwe accused of the genocide in Rwanda 1994). New relationships among these groups are constantly being formed depending on relationships (and status among different commanders) and lucrative commerce opportunities. This paper argues that in the context of war, the concept of relationship – moral, practical, strategic, tactical – must be reconceptualized. This paper is a result of extensive fieldwork in DRC (South Kivu province) together with the different armed groups.


  • Social Anthropology
  • war
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • armed groups
  • socialantropologi
  • social anthropology
  • violence


PACSA (Peace and Conflict Studies in Anthropology Network). The “local” in global understanding of war and peacemaking. Anthropological and inter-disciplinary perspectives. Workshop 7: Enemies and Others. On Conflict, social Polarization and Othering
Anna Hedlund, photo: private
E-mail: anna [dot] hedlund [at] soc [dot] lu [dot] se


Department of Sociology


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