Title
Living the transition: inside Rwanda's conflict cycle at the grassroots Living the transition: inside Rwanda's conflict cycle at the grassroots
Author
Faculty/Department
Institute of Development Policy and Management
Publication type
article
Publication
Abingdon ,
Subject
Politics
Source (journal)
Journal of eastern African studies. - Abingdon
Volume/pages
3(2009) :3 , p. 438-463
ISSN
1753-1055
1753-1063
ISI
000272535200004
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
Political1 transitions are predominantly analysed from the top down and focus on a narrow range of political institutions and processes. Critical rethinking of the transition paradigm now incorporates structural factors, such as historical legacies and ethnic composition(s) when analysing their trajectory(s). In this paper, we intend to complement top-down approaches by offering a bottom up perspective; revealing what it means for an ordinary person to live through a transition. We use the Rwandan transition as a case-study. An analysis of over 400 life histories of Rwandan peasants, and their subjective ranking exercises over time on a ladder of life, portrays the path of the Rwandan transition as perceived from below. The ethnicity of the respondents sheds light on the structural factor underlying the Rwandan transition: the Hutu-Tutsi ethnic bi-polarity. Their life stories and the results of the subjective ranking exercise reveal the (perceived) interrelation of power and identity that have structured and continue to structure the Rwandan socio-political landscape and everyday life, despite the fact that ethnicity has been officially banned from public life.
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