Myths set in motion: The moral economy of mai mai governance

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Rebels may set myths into motion when they govern civilians. Rebels who want to overturn the socio-political order often incorporate its values, beliefs, representations, and practices into their governance of civilians. In doing so they govern through some of the myths underpinning that order. Many of these operate on an unreflective level among both rebels and local residents. Deploying these enables rebels to cultivate legitimacy among civilians whose support they solicit. But the novelty of rule by rebels is that it recasts existing values and beliefs into new political narratives that shape rebel governance profoundly. Drawing on a mixture of nationalist, pre-colonial, and Christian values and beliefs, General Padiri's Mai Mai militia group from South Kivu in eastern Congo produced a mythical narrative, forged around divine authority and the bipolar relation between autochthony and foreignness. This syncretic mythical narrative resonated deeply within the local society. It endowed Padiri with charismatic authority and enabled a highly centralized, authoritarian, and coercive form of rebel governance.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRebel Governance in Civil War
EditorsAna Arjona, Nelson Kasfir, Zachariah Mampilly
Number of pages22
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publication date2015
ISBN (Print)9781107102224
ISBN (Electronic)9781316182468
Publication statusPublished - 2015

ID: 229899973