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The Full Story


About the homepage

This homepage communicates findings and insights of the research project and keeps you updated on what is going on. It contains brief articles by the project participants based on the results.

About the research project

Our project turns to history in order to better understand challenges to law and order in our present time; specifically, examining the present-day fragmented and ‘failed state’ of Congo (DRC), often described as lacking in terms of the Rule of Law and adequate legal institutions is re-examined in light of the rule of law activities pursued in the lower Congo by Swedish missionaries from the Mission Covenant Church of Sweden (Svenska Missionskyrkan), 1881-1961. Following the well-established thesis that ‘disorder’ in the contemporary ‘postcolony’ flows from how the introduction of law and order was pursued during the pre-colonial and colonial era, our project revisits the Swedish contribution to the establishment of the Rule of Law in contemporary DRC, in order to better understand legal fragmentation and pluralism was introduced in the pre-colonial and colonial era. We draw on unique archival material, as well as contemporary empirical data, with the aim to develop a substantiated holistic approach to legal fragmentation and state state-building initiatives in the contemporary DRC.

About the research team

Matilda Arvidsson from the Department of Law at the University of Gothenburg and social anthropologist Simon Larsson met at a seminar in 2016 and started to discuss a joint scholarly interest in Christian Mission and Colonialism—the rest is history as the saying goes.

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Matilda Arvidsson

Matilda Arvidsson, BA, LLM, LLD, associate professor (Docent) in international law, assistant senior lecturer in law and theory, has studied law in Lund, Jerusalem and Khartoum. She completed her LLD in international law at the Faculty of Law, Lund University, from where she also holds an LLM in jurisprudence and a BA in political science. Her research interests are interdisciplinary and include AI and law, legal and theory, international law, posthumanism and technology, and the embodiment of law in various forms and inter-species relations. She is an associate editor of Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence: Law & Technology and part of the editorial board of Law, Technology and Humans ( She reviews manuscripts and journal articles for several publishing houses and academic journals, including Oxford University Press, Routledge, Leiden Journal of International Law, the Australian Feminist Law Journal, and Griffith Law Review. She has a background in legal practice and acts as a pro bono legal adviser.

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Simon Larsson

Simon Larsson holds a doctoral degree in social anthropology and is currently working at Gothenburg Research Institute, at the School of Business Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg. His research has a broad empirical focus but relates to a theoretical interest in governance and power in historical and contemporary societies.



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Britta Sjöstedt

Britta Sjöstedt is Senior Lecturer in Environmental Law at the Faculty of Law at Lund University, Sweden. Her main research areas concern the role of the environment in peacebuilding processes and in relation to armed conflicts. She is also studying the emerging criteria for the EU Taxonomy as a part of the Green Deal. One of her focus areas is on the contemporary Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) looking at the application of international environmental law, including the 1972 World Heritage Convention protecting natural world heritage sites located in the DRC. With reference to international instruments, international interventions are enabled to protect the Congolese environment in a manner leading to increased militarization and tensions with the local communities. In this project, she will follow the historic development of foreign actors’ involvement in the Congolese judiciary to the present day and the remaining problems of the legal order.

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