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Title: ‘Buying a path’: rethinking resistance in Rwanda
Authors: Rollason, W
Keywords: Power;Resistance;Rwanda;State;James C. Scott
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Citation: Journal of Eastern African Studies, (2017)
Abstract: In this essay, I tell the story of Jean-Baptiste, the president of a motorcycle taxi drivers’ co-operative, and his struggle against the machinations of certain high officials in Kigali City Council. Crucial to this story is the way in which Jean-Baptiste’s attempts to retain his position in the face of powerful opposition pit certain agencies of Rwanda’s party state against others. I use this ethnographic narrative to question the way in which much scholarship on popular resistance in Rwanda, drawing on Scott’s simplified opposition between the powerful and the powerless, opposes ‘ordinary Rwandans’ to ‘the state’ as monolithic entities with opposed interests. Theorising Jean-Baptiste’s story in terms of Rwandan idioms of relative power and influence, I suggest that such a Manichean view of power and resistance in Rwanda oversimplifies social realities. I propose instead a model of power and resistance that sees the state as a field of capacities and possible relationships that it presents for certain people, where ‘paths’ to influence and security may by ‘bought’ – especially, but not exclusively, by those who are ‘strong’ and ‘high’.
ISSN: 1753-1055
Appears in Collections:Dept of Social Sciences Media and Communications Embargoed Research Papers

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