Studying Agaciro: moving beyond Wilsonian interventionist knowledge production on Rwanda

Olivia Umurerwa Rutazibwa

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Twenty years after the end of the Rwandan genocide, knowledge production
on the small country of a thousand hills remains a clamorous battle ground of
post- and decolonial power and influence. This essay critically engages with the
knowledge production on Rwanda in the West by conceptualizing it as a Wilsonian intervention in the post-colony: paternalistically well-intended at the service of the peace, democracy and free trade liberal triad, while at the same time silencing, self-contradictory and potentially counterproductive. The Wilsonian interventionist form of knowledge production is coated in a language of critical engagement and care. At the same time it is and allows for a continuous external engagement in view of this Wilsonian triad - a highly particularist view on the good life, cast in universal terms. As a former journalist and a researcher from the Belgian Rwandan diaspora and building on a decolonial research strategy, in this essay I reflect on potentially different avenues to produce and consume knowledge on the country. I do this by discussing the challenges and creative opportunities of a recently started research project on Agaciro (self-worth): a philosophy and public policy in post-genocide Rwanda rooted in its precolonial past, centred on the ideals of self-determination, dignity and self-reliance.
Rather than inscribing itself firmly into the canon that aims at informing on
Rwanda, this research project seeks to contribute to a different mode of
imagining, studying and enacting sovereignty in today’s academic and political
world, both permeated by the hegemonic principle of the responsibility to
protect (R2P).
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Intervention and Statebuilding
Issue number4
Early online date10 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


  • epistemology
  • selfdetermination
  • interventions
  • decoloniality
  • Rwanda


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