UNTFSSE Award Series (2023 CIRIEC International Research Conference): ‘Manufacturing’ Resilience through Cooperatives in the ‘Global South’ the Case of Post-genocide Rwanda

Abstract - EN

The genocide of the Tutsis resulted in countless psychic and tangible destructions. It has quickly proved necessary for the government to resume a new emancipatory development. The aim of this research is to highlight the fact that agricultural cooperatives in Rwanda are
an instrument for the implementation of a major political project and thus, an instrument of resilience. Moreover, it emphasizes the power relations characterizing the Rwandan reconstruction process. Previous studies have focused on reconstruction (Dushimirimana et al., 2014; Musahara, 2012) – especially, the reconstruction of widows (Kappus, 2012) – and reconciliation (Sanchez Bajo, 2019) enabled by cooperatives after the genocide. Furthermore, the resilience of cooperatives in crisis situations has already been examined (Birchall & Ketilson, 2009; Francesconi et al., 2021). The literature has conceptualized resilience as the ability of an entity to face a shock, a trauma, or a crisis, to adapt to it, and to continue to function. Thus, resilience is considered to be a potential that each individual or entity supposedly has and that may only be achieved under certain conditions. Nevertheless, there is a gap in the literature as to the way Rwandan cooperatives are actively tackling the various crises affecting them which constitute serious challenges to cooperative life. Moreover, no research has analysed the ‘manufacturing’ of the resilience process and the chains of social interactions – characterized by power relations – that lead to its existence. Therefore, this research focuses on the Rwandan resilience process and the power relations within it. The analysis of thirty semi-structured interviews and several official documents – from a neoinstitutional, socio-anthropological, and political economy perspective – revealed that the resilience process initiated by the government can only be fully understood when the power relations at work – including the role of international institutions in this process and the ‘resistances’ developed by farmers – are taken into consideration.