The African Studies will host the second annual Jan Vansina Lecture this Fall in honor of the pioneering Africa historian. The lecture by Emery Kalema on “The Mulele ‘Rebellion’ (DR Congo), Bodily Pain and the Politics of Death” will open the African Studies Program’s weekly seminar series, Africa at Noon.
Kalema is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Chair in Historical Trauma and Transformation at Stellenbosch University in South Africa and a Summer Program in Social Science Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton) until December 2019. Winner of the inaugural CSAAD Research Fellowship at New York University (Fall 2019), Kalema holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of the Witwatersrand. His research interests include power and politics, body and embodiment, violence, memory, trauma and suffering.
In this lecture, he will examine various acts of giving death during the Mulele rebellion (1963-1968), the pain and suffering that such acts caused, and the politics underpinning them, as remembered by some survivors. Drawing on extensive oral interviews and a body of theory on psychoanalysis and phenomenology, he argues that the rebellion, in its extreme manifestation, and the Congolese state had a particular way of inflicting pain and suffering on the bodies of their subjects. This way of administering pain and suffering was a product of hybridization. It relied strongly upon the triple logic of cruelty, excess, and sadism. It consisted of seizing people, torturing them, and following them beyond all suffering. Such way of proceeding had huge consequences for both the dead and the living. On the one hand, it led to the emergence of an overlapping relationship between them. On the other hand, it resulted in condemning the living to carry the dead along with them through their lives as a heavy and inseparable burden.