Finding peace amongst restless and unatoned bones: a dialogue on Bumúntú from the Democratic Republic of Congo

Sephton, I 2019, Finding peace amongst restless and unatoned bones: a dialogue on Bumúntú from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Finding peace amongst restless and unatoned bones: a dialogue on Bumúntú from the Democratic Republic of Congo
Author(s) Sephton, I
Year 2019
Abstract The  Democratic  Republic  of  Congo  (DRC)  is  a  nation  which  is  often  immediately  associated with  violence.  For  well  over  a  century  it  has  been  marked  by  a  litany  of  horrors,  further cementing colonial imagery of a perennial heart of darkness. Whilst the reality of violence is undeniable, dominant representations of such violence are just one indication that the struggle for peace in the DRC occurs in the context of a contemporary global landscape intimately bound up in enduring legacies of colonialism and imperialism.  Beyond sensationalized Western media accounts, evidence of this can also be seen in the dominant peace interventions and strategies promoted by leading states, leading international organisations and international financial   institutions.  Indeed, the international peace-building effort in the DRC may provide a powerful case for the argument that pessimism on humanness more broadly (exaggerated by an even deeper pessimism on African humanness) has reduced both curiosity in exploring the roots of violence and creativity in responding to it (de  Zulueta  2006).  Alternative narratives exist, however.  This thesis invites the reader on a journey to Kamina, the capital of the Haut-Lomami province, DRC, to engage in a dialogue on humanness, violence and peace from another angle.  Using the concept of Búmùntù (authentic Personhood) from the Luba tradition to guide such a dialogue, I consider the place and meaning of peace associated with this concept and consider the struggle for such a peace in the contemporary local landscape, replete with its restless and unatoned bones.  Far from the image of a perennial heart of darkness, a dialogue on Búmùntù offers a humanising narrative of the struggle for peace. It points to the existence of a rich tradition, which places peace (expressed more often as social harmony) as the defining characteristic of our humanness.  Whilst this dialogue points also to the many complexities and paradoxes associated with Búmùntù and the struggle  for peace on a contemporary landscape, it demonstrates the way in which Búmùntù endures and continues to offer a shared frame of reference through which individuals, families, communities and Luba society as a whole are able to critically reflect on their  current lived experiences and strive towards a (sometimes more and sometimes less cohesive) vision of peace. Finally, and most importantly, a dialogue on Búmùntù points us to an onus: that ""to be" is to be in harmony with our fellow human beings." Accordingly, a dialogue on Búmùntù obliges us to be curious, to be creative, and to become "authentically" human.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Global, Urban and Social Studies
Subjects Social Change
Keyword(s) Ubuntu
Democratic Republic of Congo
Decolonizing knowledges
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Created: Wed, 03 Apr 2019, 10:32:09 EST by Adam Rivett
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