Gesture and Power: Religion, Nationalism, and Everyday Performance in Congo
Dancing Disorder in Mobutu’s Zaire: Animation Politique and Gendered Nationalisms
2016. "Dancing Disorder in Mobutu’s Zaire: Animation Politique and Gendered Nationalisms", Gesture and Power: Religion, Nationalism, and Everyday Performance in Congo, Yolanda Covington-Ward
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This chapter explores the localized effects of national policies of animation politique on BisiKongo women living in Luozi Territory in postcolonial Zaire. This chapter focuses on the lived and gendered experiences of animation politique to demonstrate that coerced performances are an often overlooked but potent governmental technique that shapes individual and group subjectivities, and also disrupts the moral order of local communities. The chapter builds on and expands Achille Mbembe’s work on the banality of power by illuminating the impact of performative encounters in the bedroom. The interviews used in this chapter show that the sexual exploitation of female dancers, even in the most rural areas, largely created moral disorder and fostered negative sentiments in local communities, thus undermining the nationalist project. The chapter argues that the complex engagement of these women with the state under Mobutu was a form of gendered nationalism that differed from the experiences of male performers.