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2017 Dunbar-Stone Lecture & Undergraduate Research Conference
March 24 @ 5:00 pm - March 25 @ 3:30 pm
This year’s Department of African, African American, & Diaspora Studies’ Undergraduate Research Conference will open with the
presented by Keynote Speaker, Dr. Catharine Newbury
“Infra-Politics in Rwanda: Rural Activism Before and After the Genocide”
Friday, March 24th | 5:00 – 7:00pm
Caldwell Hall, Room 105
During the past two decades, the post-genocide government in Rwanda has introduced a series of policies designed to create a “new Rwanda.” A number of these policies focus on rural areas of the country, where the majority of Rwandans live and where food and cash crop production by smallholders is important for both the local and the national economies. The post-genocide government’s ambitious efforts at social engineering have included villagization, land reform, regional crop specialization, and the reorganization of administrative structures. Of course state-sponsored attempts to restructure rural society and production are nothing new in Rwanda; indeed they were hallmarks of the postcolonial period, in Rwanda, as elsewhere. However, to many observers Rwanda’s policies of recent years represent a dramatic change from the 1980s and the early 1990s. What have been the effects of state-sponsored policies on rural lives since 1994? And how have rural residents responded? Paradoxically, during the years leading up to 1994 in Rwanda rural initiatives from below were widespread and vociferous—with a proliferation of local NGOs and cooperatives, and lively debates on rural issues in print media and on the radio. By contrast, in the post-genocide era activism on rural concerns appears to be more muted. This lecture will explore the contexts that gave rise to these contrasting dynamics.
Dr. Newbury is a Five College Professor Emerita of Government and African Studies in the Department of Government at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.