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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Bringing the peasants back in, again: State power and local agency in Rwanda's 'gacaca' courts
Author:Clark, PhilISNI
Periodical:Journal of Eastern African Studies (ISSN 1753-1063)
Geographic term:Rwanda
Front Patriotique Rwandais
Abstract:Rwanda's genocide trials through the 'gacaca' community courts, between 2002 and 2012, have attracted substantial critique and also become a key vehicle for analysing wider political and social dynamics, including policy-making under the Rwandan Patriotic Front. A common criticism of 'gacaca' is that it allowed the Rwandan state to deploy the language of devolved, popularly owned justice while further centralizing and consolidating State power. Based on fieldwork conducted over ten years, including more than 650 interviews and observations of 105 'gacaca' hearings, this article responds to this criticism and argues that while one should be sceptical of the Rwandan government's overly romantic depiction of 'gacaca' as organic, decentralized justice and critical of other dimensions of State policy, one should be equally sceptical of characterizations of 'gacaca' as simply another means for the State to entrench its power and influence in the countryside. The article contends that both perspectives are reductionist and fail to acknowledge the complex ways in which Rwandan citizens engage with the State and participate in government-initiated community-level processes such as 'gacaca'. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]