New Publication: Understanding the Political Motivations That Shape Rwanda’s Emergent Developmental State

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Along with my wonderful co-author, Marie Berry, I am pleased to announce that our article ‘Understanding the Political Motivations that Shape Rwanda’s Emergent Developmental State’ has been now pre-published in the journal, New Political Economy.

Abstract: Twenty years after its horrific genocide, Rwanda has become a model for economic development. At the same time, its government has been criticised for authoritarian tactics and the use of violence. Missing from the often polarised debate are the connections between these two perspectives. Synthesising existing literature on Rwanda in light of a combined year of fieldwork, we argue that the Government of Rwanda is using the developmental infrastructure to deepen state power and expand political control. We first identify the historical pressures that have motivated the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) to reimagine the political landscape. Sectarian unrest, political rivalry, wider regional insecurity and aid withdrawal have all pressured the RPF to identify growth as strategic. However, the political transformation extends beyond a prioritisation of growth and encompasses the articulation of ideologies and new mindsets, the provision of social services and infrastructure and the reordering of the social and physical layout of the territory. Growth and social control go hand in hand. As such, this paper’s main contribution is to bring together the two sides of the Rwandan debate and place the country in a broader sociological literature about the parallel development of capitalist relations and transformations in state power.

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