Theses Master's

Emerging Voices: How Transitional Justice Can Transform the Congolese Diaspora into Agents of Change

Douge, Taina

Congo-Brazzaville is a small West African country with the economic potential for every citizen to live in comfortable wealth, but its current political context reads like a Hobbesian, dystopian novel. The United Nations lists the country at 137 on the Human Development Index. The irony is that the Congolese voice is missing or “disappeared” from most human rights coverage, academic literature and social research.

This thesis therefore rests keenly on the logic of qualitative research. The Congolese diaspora seemed a trigger point, a way of contending with this disappearance and awakening the “voices from below”. By working with a small sample of the local diaspora, focusing on their stories and experiences, the work seeks to bring clarity and in- depth understanding to their metaphysical hijack.

Surprisingly, what emerged were the false, dominant narratives that keep the Congolese psychologically, politically, and economically suppressed. Namely, 1) Congo is a poor nation, 2) colonialism is dead, 3) ethnic conflict is the cause of war, and 4) Congo has no future. This work shows how and why transitional justice can dismantle and transform these narratives, and offer a moment of reckoning.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Salomons, Dirk
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
August 24, 2020