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Modernising rural practices in the valleys and hills of Rwanda: Authority, regulation and resistance

An Ansoms 

Université Catholique Louvain, Belgium  

Since the end of civil war and genocide in 1994, the Rwandan government has embarked on an ambitious plan to profoundly reshape the rural setting. Through a strategy of agrarian modernization, the Rwandan government is re-organizing rural space and production in order to foster economic growth. This re-organisation was piloted in Rwanda's marshlands, and is now spread out to its hills. However, the organisation of this spatial reorganisation is different between marsh- or hill-land. In marshlands, cooperatives organise the entire land distribution and production process. In the hills, people keep their land rights, but are obliged to integrate their land into land consolidation schemes that impose particular crop choices. We analyse how the reconfiguration of access to productive resources is intertwined with the reinforcement of the state’s authority. At the same time, we also shed light on resistance strategies that boycott or transgress official policy guidelines in hidden ways.

December 7, 2015