Dans : Geoforum, ISSN: 0016-7185, Vol: 133, Page: 43-55

Année de publication: 2022

Auteurs: Justin Dodd Mullikin, An Ansoms, Jessica Marter-Kenyon, Ine Cottyn, Vincent Legrand, René-Claude Niyonkuru, Aymar Nyenyezi Bisoka

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2022.05.005


This paper analyzes the relationship between the Government of Rwanda’s aesthetics of space and the formation of the post-2000 Rwandan state. We reflect upon the importance of aesthetics – ‘how things should look’ – in Rwandan development policy discourses and practices. First, we show how the Government of Rwanda’s aesthetic preferences are materialized through a set of ‘modernization’ policies that aim to transform space in both urban and rural areas. Second, we highlight how the actual transformation of space – directed through these policies – is conditioned by negotiated power relations at various sites of governance and by both social and environmental factors. Third, we show how citizens exercise power through these dynamics, generating contingencies, contestations, and adaptations which disrupt normative framings of citizen-relations in strong state settings. We conclude that the dynamics of negotiation around the Rwandan government’s aesthetics of space both reflect and influence the formation of the post-2000 state. In this way, tactics of negotiation used to confront power at all levels are a viable path for everyday citizens to influence the form and direction of development policy, even within a strong, high-modernist state.