The politics of Congolese Combattants’ violent transnational mobilisation

Status: This talk is in preparation - details may change
Status: This talk has been cancelled

In this paper I discuss the dynamics of formation and mobilisation of the new Congolese Combattant militant migrant groups that have globally embargoed Congolese politicians, musicians and religious ministers supporting the current Congolese regime to visit or hold public events outside their country of origin. Discursively constructed as ‘national unworthy’, those who dare to violate this embargo have been humiliated drawing on different politics of shaming, or violently assaulted and some churches vandalised. I discuss the issues of how socialisation with democratic culture and rule of law in Western and other liberal democratic countries impacts migrants’ understanding of their own transnational citizenship and the kind of political participation that may emerge for the rights of those left behind. I use multiple data collection techniques: netnography, deep hanging out, overt and covert participant observation, incident reporting, and in-depth face-to-face and phone interviews conducted over four years. My main argument is that enhanced by moral proximity and the resulting constitution of mediatised networks of political concern created by new media technologies, the Combatants’ violence is an expression of migrants’ pragmatic insurgent citizenship activism. I introduce the theoretical model of pragmatic insurgent citizenship activism to conceptualise the transnational reality whereby migrants, operating either as nationalist or pro-democracy and rule of law groups, engage in political violence in host settings to simultaneously contest the basic legitimacy of their homeland authorities and instrumentally capitalise on the very same violent acts in attempts to legitimise their stay or access other material or moral benefits in host countries.