AfREC Member Wins Faculty Prize for Thesis on Rwanda

AfREC member and Political Science and International Relations Honours student Zoë Fitzgerald has won the 2019 UWA J. A. Wood Memorial Prize awarded to “the most outstanding graduand for the year of those completing an honours course in the Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Education”.

Zoë’s Honours thesis was entitled ‘No place in the new Rwanda’: Ethnic identity securitisation in the context of Rwanda’s repressive peace.

This study investigates whether ethnic identity was securitised by the RPF in the post-conflict period from July 1994 to July 2019, to analyse the extent to which identity discourse has impacted the RPF’s political agenda for post-conflict regime maintenance and repressive peace. A successful securitisation, if present, would be indicated by discourse that positions ethnic identity as an existential threat legitimating unprecedented political action. This discourse must have been accepted by an audience. During the period of analysis there was a concerted attempt by the RPF to position ethnic identity as an existential threat legitimating both the criminalisation of ethnic identity and the compulsory imposition of a collective ‘Rwandan’ identity on civilians. The RPF has subsequently deployed this securitising move to underpin a broad range of post-conflict policies. In doing so, the regime has successfully elicited consent for its securitising move from both Rwandan society and the international community. This study therefore concludes that a securitisation of ethnic identity has occurred in the post-conflict period. The RPF has predominantly deployed identity securitisation as a regime maintenance strategy serving its own interests. However, securitisation has had the additional impact of strengthening aspects of Rwanda’s repressive peace.

AfREC warmly congratulates Zoë on her research and prize!

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