Rainforest Capitalism: Power and Masculinity in a Congolese Timber Concession (Hardcover)
Congolese logging camps are places where mud, rain, fuel smugglers, and village roadblocks slow down multinational timber firms; where workers wage wars against trees while evading company surveillance deep in the forest; where labor compounds trigger disturbing colonial memories; and where blunt racism, logger machismo, and homoerotic desires reproduce violence. In Rainforest Capitalism Thomas Hendriks examines the rowdy world of industrial timber production in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to theorize racialized and gendered power dynamics in capitalist extraction. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork among Congolese workers and European company managers as well as traders, farmers, smugglers, and barkeepers, Hendriks shows how logging is deeply tied to feelings of existential vulnerability in the face of larger forces, structures, and histories. These feelings, Hendriks contends, reveal a precarious side of power in an environment where companies, workers, and local residents frequently find themselves out of control. An ethnography of complicity, ecstasis, and paranoia, Rainforest Capitalism queers assumptions of corporate strength and opens up new ways to understand the complexities and contradictions of capitalist extraction.
Thomas Hendriks is FWO Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa at KU Leuven and coeditor of Readings in Sexualities from Africa.