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Understanding the political motivations that shape Rwanda’s emergent developmental state

Mann, Laura and Berry, Marie (2015) Understanding the political motivations that shape Rwanda’s emergent developmental state. New Political Economy, 21 (1). pp. 119-144. ISSN 1356-3467

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Identification Number: 10.1080/13563467.2015.1041484


Twenty years after its horrific genocide, Rwanda has become a model for economic development. At the same time, its government has been criticized for its authoritarian tactics and use of violence. Missing from the often-polarized debate are the connections between these two perspectives. Synthesizing existing literature on Rwanda in light of a combined year of fieldwork, we argue that the GoR is using the developmental infrastructure to deepen state power and expand political control. We first identify the historical pressures that have motivated the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) to re-imagine 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 country’s political transformation extends beyond a prioritisation of growth and encompasses the reordering of the social and physical layout of the territory, the articulation of new ideologies and mindsets, and the provision of social services and surveillance infrastructure. Growth and social control go hand in hand. As such, the 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.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 Taylor & Francis
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2017 11:49
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2024 03:51
Projects: RES-167-25-0701
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council, University of California

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