PhD defense Salomon Mampeta

PhD defense Salomon Mampeta

DR Congo - 21 May, 2012

The 18th of May 2012 Salomon Mampeta defended his doctoral thesis denominated: “Populations, Power and Conflicts around Forest Concessions in Isangi Territory”. The defense took place at the Tropenbos International office in Kisangani with four committee members from the University of Kisangani (Professors Sengi, Saile, Bolinda et Lipipa) and two committee members from the University of Bordeaux, France (Professors Darbon et Bergeron).

Salomon Mampeta conducted his research with assistance from CIFOR (REAFOR & REFORCO) and Tropenbos International in DR Congo.

Logging concessions in the territory of Isangi are of special interest for the analysis of the conditions under which conflicts start and are resolved that involve multiple actors with different social representations, and unequal power relations. Isangi’s forests hold many resources that have become an issue of conflict of interests. The economic, social, cultural and political transformations resulting from logging help to reconfigure social relations among involved actors. The identification of multiple actors and the complexity of the area covered by the forest concessions explain the development of conflicts over natural resources and the redefinition of strategies and relationships among actors. This study seeks, on the one hand, to shed light on the reconfiguration of social relations among the actors around logging. On the other hand, the study seeks to identify strategies for conflict management, and therefore understand the extent to which the forest areas being logged can become a territory of organized action, contributing to the improvement of living standards among local communities. This approach will help us to demonstrate how the actors can at the same time be those who build the system (through games and interdependent relations of power), ensure it has some permanence, and allow it to evolve. To collect data, we conducted individual and group interviews with the different stakeholders (local communities, civil society, loggers, politicians, local government, traditional authorities, etc.). The systems approach (Edgard Morin’s model) complemented with the strategic analysis of actors (Crozier and Friedberg) served as our framework of analysis. Conflict resolution is closely related to power plays and actors. The low visibility of the state leads to the emergence of several actor-stakeholders capable of manipulating weakly regulated spaces of power, thus causing several shades of uncertainty. For Isangi forest concessions to become a “Systeme d’Action Concret” (SAC) [System for Concrete Action], the cultural reality of local communities has to be taken into account and those exercising power should change their behavior. There is also need for good forest governance and the reestablishment of a state of law. 

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