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Anthropology of Rape in War: Sexual Violence and Magical Beliefs in the Congo War.

  • Anna Hedlund
Publishing year: 2010
Language: English
Document type: Conference paper

Abstract english

This paper discusses the landscape of sexual violence in the DR Congo, it draws attention to agency, violence, personhood, emotions and understanding of sexual violence by perpetrators, victims and those organizations seeking to combat the phenomenon. DR Congo have been cited by international actors and media as a region where sexual violence is used "as a weapon of war" and women's situation is constantly described internationally in the vocabulary of 'victim', 'vulnerability', 'fear', 'pain' while the grammar of manhood is described as 'perpetrator', 'aggression' and 'power'. In this discourse, international organisations disregard cultural and traditional implications, such as, the local attention to imaginary and parallel worlds, the role of good and the evil and witchcraft in conflict which will be discussed is linked to rape and enduring violence. This paper argues for the need to combine internal and external conceptions of rape in conflict and (1.) It investigates the local performances of self and understandings of identity formations in what is now called "rape affected communities" within the context of conflict. (2.) Critically examines the mobilization of political "emotions" by international actors and their motives behind making the private (rape) public.


  • Social Anthropology
  • Eastern Congo
  • social anthropology
  • sexual violence
  • socialantropologi
  • violence
  • agency


EASA Conference
Anna Hedlund, photo: private
E-mail: anna [dot] hedlund [at] soc [dot] lu [dot] se


Department of Sociology


Department of Sociology
Lund University
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