As local participation has been central to some peacebuilding efforts, the voice and role of migrants within such frameworks is seldom considered. In the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country qualified not only by high levels of forced displacement, but also as having one of the world’s highest rate of voluntary repatriation, agency of return migrants should be further considered in attempts to strengthen peace and cooperation in the region. A fundamental step in achieving this is by recognizing that Congolese refugees have a historical, personal and cultural connection to their place of origin albeit being spatially separated from it. Challenging a ‘sedentary bias’ which contends that deterritorialization strips migrants from their spatiocultural roots, there is a need to investigate how memory, identity and culture play an important role in how refugees remember and plan their return to the homeland. Specifically, in the context of a region where conflict is often attributed to ethnic, land-based, and resource extraction issues, an ethnographic understanding of this group can be particularly useful in placing migrant agency within current and future environmental peacebuilding frameworks in the DRC.
Parent, Nicolas. 2019. “Displacement, return and environmental peacebuilding: Congolese refugees and the potential of ethnographic research,” Tvergastein Interdisciplinary Journal of the Environment, no. 12: 30-37.
This article is published through Tvergastein Interdisciplinary Journal of the Environment, a publication based out of the Centre for Development and Environment (SUM), University of Oslo. The article appears in Tvergastein‘s thematic issue on ‘Peace and the Environment’. It is available for viewing and download here.