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Re-examining resistance in post-genocide Rwanda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-245
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Eastern African Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

King's Authors


The scholarship on Rwanda interprets a large swathe of rural activities as types of resistance to government policies instituted by the current ruling party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). This paper presents a detailed life history of an elderly rural man who actively resisted ethnically discriminatory violence in Rwanda in 1973, 1990 and 1994. His decision not to participate in the state-supported violence provides an archetypal example of active resistance and allows for an analysis of what it means to resist state power in a particular time and place. This ethnographic research provides one route to nuance the current interpretations of resistance in Rwanda. It proposes that the dominant accounts of peasant resistance, which draw heavily on the theoretical work of James C. Scott, often neglect power differentials within rural communities, and fail to take adequate account of the normative dimensions that underpin an individual's decision to resist. It concludes with a call for a more careful analysis of how and why people resist state power in Rwanda.

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