Cornell University

Converting Threats to Power: Cultural Politics of Energy and Unity in Post-Genocide Rwanda Kristin Doughty - University of Rochester (Title TBD)

Friday, March 10, 2017 at 1:30pm to 3:00pm

Warren Hall, B73 137 Reservoir Drive

Over the past decade, while rebuilding the country in the wake of the 1994 genocide, the Rwandan government has developed contracts with two U.S. companies to build industrial-scale projects to extract methane from Lake Kivu, a 2,500 square kilometer lake that straddles the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The methane extraction project has two stated aims: first, to reduce dangerous levels of unstable gasses dissolved in the lake and thus prevent it from an unpredictable, and deadly, explosion; and second, to provide much-needed power to fuel development for the region. The Kivu methane project thus seeks to transform a potential threat into an actual resource in a place marked by histories of violence. This paper, based on ethnographic research in Rwanda in fall 2016, examines the linkages between official efforts to control violence and nature, and how energy projects and power relate to peace.

Prof Doughty's first book project, Remediation in Rwanda:Grassroots Legal Forums (University of Pennsylvania Press, Ethnography of Political Violence Series, 2016), was driven by an interest in understanding how the contemporary global preoccupation with law and human rights as universalizing frameworks for post-conflict reconciliation shape people’s own efforts to rebuild their lives in the wake of violence. The book examines the intersection of law, rights, and collective belonging in post-genocide Rwanda. It is based on 18 months of ethnographic research with grassroots legal forums in Rwanda, including genocide courts (gacaca courts) in which suspects from the 1994 genocide were tried among their neighbors before locally elected judges, as well as mediation committees for ordinary disputes (comite y'abunzi) and a legal aid clinic. Prof Doughty has also researched and/or written on memorialization and education in Rwanda, and on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Prof Doughty’s current research project examines the intersection of energy politics and post-genocide reconstruction in Rwanda through a focus on methane extraction in Lake Kivu. This research is funded by grants from the Wenner Gren foundation and National Science Foundation.

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Development Sociology


anthro, dsoc, iad

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Susan Barry

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Kristin Doughty

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University of Rochester

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