The Journal of Modern African Studies

Research Article

Displacement and ethnic reintegration in Ituri, DR Congo: challenges ahead

Johan Pottiera1 c1*

a1 Department of Anthropology, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG, United Kingdom


This article examines the ethnic character of Ituri's complex emergency. It considers the local context in which the IDP predicament has unfolded, asking questions about the prospect of, and responsibilities for, post-conflict reintegration. As militia disarmament and peace are linked but not coterminous, it is argued that militant ethnic agendas at the core of the conflict must be scrutinised for their ongoing significance. Revealing the past to be a contested terrain, these agendas call for an apartheid-style solution along lines of segregation first envisaged by Belgian colonialists. To move towards ethnic reintegration, Iturians face the challenge that they must create a common history freed from the stranglehold of extremist interpretations.


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* I thank the Nuffield Foundation for a grant in support of my 2004 research in Ituri and North Kivu, and Nadine Lusi for assistance during the fieldwork. My greatest debt is to the people in Ituri who so generously shared their thoughts; I hope not to disappoint them in my writings. I also thank the anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier version of this article. Responsibility for its content, including the translations, remains my own.