This book suggests a radically new reading of Central Africa’s violent crisis. Written from the vantage point of actors who stand in the middle of it – transnational cross-border traders – it traces back today’s violent rule patterns to a tumultuous history of extraeconomic accumulation, armed rebellion, and de facto public authority operating in the margins of regional state powers. Based on a decade of sociological research in the region, the originality of this book lies in its neat focus on cultural and economic uncertainty as a driver of political action. Exploring the profound social changes that have taken shape in this region over the past century, it explains how certain actors have taken a central place and how others are marginalized in the reformulation of political authority at the local and cross-border levels. Through an in-depth analysis of Eastern Congo’s turbulent history, it offers new ways to think about the relationships between public authority, armed conflict, and international intervention.