chapter  13
15 Pages

Coping with the Barbarian Syndrome

The Challenges of Researching Civilian-Military Interaction “from Below” in the Eastern DR Congo
WithJudith Verweijen

This chapter discusses a number of basic features of the Congolese army and the ways in which it has been portrayed. It briefly outlines the research project on everyday interaction between the Congolese army and civilians in the Kivu provinces. The chapter attends to some of the main challenges encountered in the course of the field research such as overcoming sensationalism and ethnographic seduction in relation to perpetrators and dealing with the impact of dominant discourses on the gathering and interpretation of data. It discusses some of the strategies developed in to 'tame the beast' of the barbarian syndrome, specifically the efforts to expand the interpretative horizons and reflect on power effects. The chapter also addresses the question of how the new media impacted on these endeavors and reflects on how these media might affect our capacity to listen to the other more generally.