Agaciro: Re-centering Dignity in Development

Olivia Rutazibwa, Eric Ndushabandi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Agaciro is a concept with multiple meanings, depending on its use, its reference to things, people, or their interaction as well as on the historic or geographic context. Mostly translated as “worth”, “dignity” and “self-respect” (Behuria 2015), Agaciro speaks to the concrete lived experiences of Rwandans.

This essay explores the creative ways in which, through Agaciro, the concept of dignity is re-centered in development thinking and social practices. It ponders about the extent to which it constitutes a post-development or decolonial alternative to hegemonic international development. Our preliminary conclusion is that in Rwanda, the symbolic power associated with Agaciro enables Rwandans to project themselves as principal agents of development, rather than recipients or beneficiaries. Considering the different policies for which Agaciro is invoked, we conclude that Agaciro’s potential for radical alternative thinking is real but not automatic.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary
EditorsArturo Escobar, Ashish Kothari, Ariel Salleh, Federico Demaria, Alberto Acosta
Place of PublicationNew Delhi
PublisherColumbia University Press
Number of pages3
ISBN (Print)9788193732984
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • dignity
  • Development
  • Rwanda
  • decoloniality


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  • JIAS 2020 Writing Fellowship

    Rutazibwa, Olivia (Recipient), 2019

    Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively

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