When War is Our Daily Bread: Congo, Theology, and the Ethics of Contemporary Conflict
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This dissertation approaches the problem of war in Christian ethics through the lens of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Drawing upon memoirs, letters, sermons, and fieldwork, it shifts the focus of moral inquiry from theoretical positions on war (e.g., just war theory and pacifism) to the domain of everyday life and the ways that local Christians theologically frame and practically reason through conflict. I explore the 1996-1997 Rwandan refugee crisis through the voice of a Catholic survivor, Marie Béatrice Umutesi, and consider how her narrative challenges both just war interpretations of this violence and "bare life" readings of refugee experience. I then examine how the Catholic Church endured rebel occupation in the eastern city of Bukavu from 1998-2000, looking specifically at how Archbishop Emmanuel Kataliko's Christological reading of the situation transformed the experience of suffering into a form of agency and galvanized the Church into collective action. I go on to explore how residents of the town of Nyankunde in northeastern Congo are constructing alternatives to the war economy and re-weaving ordinary life out of the ruins of their former lives. In showing how local narratives help us reframe the problem of war in Christian ethics, I argue that description is not a preliminary stage to moral judgment; description is moral judgment.
Democratic Republic of Congo