Overcoming Apocalyptic Identities in Rwanda: The Successes and Challenges of Development After Genocide
Vorderstrasse, Gina Nicole
Habeeb, William Mark
Conflict resolution theory and practice increasingly incorporates concepts relating to development as a cause of violence and as a possible solution to conflict. Yet, a nuanced understanding of the social and economic dimensions of development - and their interactions - is lacking from the field. This thesis explores the successes and challenges of development in the aftermath of brutal collective violence and entrenched social divisions, specifically focusing on national development programs in Rwanda following genocide. In this context, it is important to ask how political discourses and national development policies have transformed ethnic and national Rwandan identities in the aftermath of genocide. This discursive approach investigates elite and grassroots perceptions of development and identity transformation in the post-genocide years. While this analysis reveals that Rwandans construct nationhood, togetherness, and mutual dependency through development, these unifying programs have also produced exclusion and marginalization among groups that are not perceived to be part of the "Rwandan" national identity. By examining identity construction and development as interrelated and inextricable processes, theorists and practitioners can better understand the ways in which groups are included or excluded from key social, political, and economic structures in post-conflict environments.
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