The area surrounding the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo has not been ruled effectively by any sovereign state in decades and has been mired in ethnic violence since the mid-1990s, when the Congolese state collapsed. Raeymaekers has conducted extensive fieldwork in this dangerous part of the world, which allows him to provide fascinating information on the practices, discourse, and power relations of the individuals and firms that exist and sometimes thrive in this Hobbesian environment. His compelling account examines the nature of economic activity in the midst of the area’s long-standing instability, and he finds that new kinds of social organizations have replaced or co-opted the moribund state structures, regulating markets and providing the modicum of authority necessary for them to function. Often linked to specific networks of producers, these new organizations allow for some level of capitalist accumulation but make no contribution to the goal of lasting peace and have little interest in building any kind of political community. Indeed, the power and wealth they have accrued have probably made peace and effective state building less likely.
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