Imagining The Congo

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Overview

Understanding the current civil war in Congo requires an examination of how the Congo's identity has been imagined over time. Imagining the Congo historicizes and contextualizes the constructions of the Congo's identity during four historical periods. Kevin Dunn explores "imaginings" of the Congo that have allowed the current state of affairs there to develop, and the broader conceptual question of how identity has become important in recent IR scholarship.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[Dunn’s book]...is an exploration of the way various imaginings and representations of the Congo have shaped events in colonial and postcolonial Congo/Zaire...Imagining the Congo is orignal, forcefully argued, and well-written." — John Clark, Florida International University
Foreign Affairs
Are we just who we are, or do others' biased perceptions "construct" us, preconditioning our relationships with outsiders and limiting our capacity to fashion and assert a healthy self-image? Following in the footsteps of Antonio Gramsci, Edward Said, and their many disciples, Dunn explores how Westerners since the nineteenth century have defined a large swath of central Africa as a mysterious "heart of darkness" occupied by irrational and childlike people for whom chaos and barbarism are the norm. The violent fragmentation, predatory external interventions, and international neglect that afflict today's Democratic Republic of the Congo, he suggests, can be directly traced back to these past negative stereotypes ("imaginings"). Efforts by some Congolese leaders and intellectuals to project more positive counterimages of their country since its independence in 1960 have largely been thwarted by their difficulty in getting the world's attention ("accessing discursive space"). Although he slightly overstates his case, Dunn succeeds in subjecting these propositions to a searching, interesting, and well-argued analysis that challenges overly simple understandings of international relations.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403961600
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 5/1/2003
  • Pages: 228
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author

Kevin Dunn is Assistant Professor, Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

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Table of Contents

Inventing the Congo: Henry Morton Stanley, Leopold II, and the “Red Rubber” Scandal
• Congo as Chaos, Lumumba as Diable: Independence and the 1960s Crisis
• From Congo to Zaire: Mobutu’s Production of an “Authentic” National Identity
• Cancer, Kabila, and the Congo: Central Africa at the end of the 20th Century

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