Brokering between (not so) overt and (not so) covert networks in conflict zones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • External authors:
  • Patrycja Stys
  • Judith Verweijen
  • Batumike Papy Muzuri
  • Samuel Muhindo
  • Christoph Vogel


A multitude of different armed groups, some recognised or framed as terrorist organisations, cover the DR Congo’s east in an ever-changing kaleidoscope of alliances and animosities which shapes and is shaped by a dynamic embeddedness of militarised (or ‘covert’) networks in local communities and economies. While most studies of African brokers have relied on network metaphors like ‘Big Men’ and ‘social membranes’, we consider the embeddedness of ‘covert’ networks in ‘overt’ networks more explicitly. We perform two analyses on a large original dataset encompassing 396 partially overlapping ego-nets obtained from a hybrid link-tracing design. An ego-net analysis reveals a large degree of homophily but also a deep embeddedness of the different networks. A multilevel exponential random graph fitted to the reconstructed network of a 110-node subset, shows that demobilised combatants are the actors likely to broker between armed groups, state forces, and civilian blocs, suggesting their capacity to broker peace or foment war.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Crime
Early online date5 May 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 May 2019

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