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Conference announcement: Norms and Illegality (Brussels, Oct 25-25 2012)

The Royal Museum for central Africa (Tervuren, Belgium) is organizing, in collaboration with the Free University Brussels and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, an outstanding international conference, Norms in the Margins and Margins of the Norms. The social construction of illegality (Tervuren, Brussels, Leuven, October 25-27 2012).

The conference aims at fostering a cross-disciplinary debate on everyday practice seen as systems of practical norms in realms more commonly considered from a legal or moral standpoint. Political scientists, jurists, historians, sociologists and social anthropologists will exchange interdisciplinary views on interactions between normative systems produced by official actors such as States or international organizations and those systems of norms informing the actions of actors thriving in the margins of official categories. Official categories emerge as highly political creations, while powerlessness in the margin reveals itself as relative. Market oriented economy intertwines with underground networks and these interconnections produce implicit norms that are also produced in the loopholes of law in various spheres of societies. These themes will be analysed through case studies as, for instance, traffics in art, drugs, organs as well as corruption or cultural production of rules.

Some panels focus on  African issues. In particular colleagues working on Congo would be interest in the following panels:

  Panel 7: The neoliberal effect: normalization, exclusion and resistance
Panel organizers: Mathieu Hilgers (Free University Brussels, Belgium) & Benjamin Rubbers (University of Liege, Belgium)
– Géraldine André (Fonds National de Recherche Scientifique – University of Liege, Belgium) & Marie Godin (Free University Brussels, Belgium), Childhood and Work at the Neoliberal Age: Ethnography of Child Work in Artisanal and Small-scale Mining in the Katanga province (DRC)
– An Ansoms (Catholic University of Leuven, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium), The Bitter Fruit of a New Agrarian Model: Large-scale land deals and local livelihoods in Rwanda
– Mathieu Hilgers (Free University Brussels, Belgium),Urban governance and neoliberalism in Africa
– Benjamin Rubbers (University of Liege, Belgium), African reactions to neoliberalism. The reform of the mining sector in Katanga (D.R. Congo)
Discussant: Béatrice Hibou (Centre for International Studies and Research, Paris, France)

  Panel 12: Beyond corruption. Practical norms in public services delivery
Panel organizers: Giorgio Blundo (EHESS, Marseille, France) & Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan (LASDEL, Niamey, Niger)
– Alena Ledeneva (University College London, UK): From the Economy of Favours To the Economy of Kickbacks: the case of Russian bureaucracy
– Richard Crook (IDS, University of Sussex): The state and the norms of local justice in Ghana: hybridity, legitimacy and popular values
– Mohamed Mebtoul (Université Es-Sénia, Oran, Algérie): Déconstruction des normes professionnelles et discours de “victimisation” des acteurs de la santé
– Tom De Herdt (Antwerp University, Antwerp, Belgium) & Emmanuel Kasongo (Université de Kinshasa, Kinshasa, DRC): Tuition impossible? Policy and practices of school fee abolishment in DRC
– Thomas Cantens (World Customs Organization & Centre Norbert Elias EHESS Marseille): The Orders of Informality in the Relations Between Users and Public Services: African Customs and Transnational Circulation of Commodities
Discussant: Giorgio Blundo (EHESS, Marseille, France)

Panels are closed but we would be glad if international colleagues would be able to attend the conference and participate to the debate.

Full programme and registration form are available on the RMCA website (http://www.africamuseum.be/museum/research/conferences/index-norms_html) or via this URL:


contact: Cristiana Panella (cristiana.panella@africamuseum.be)


About Congo Research Network

The Congo Research Network (CRN) is a community of researchers working on DR Congo and its diaspora across the Humanities


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