Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
Association for Feminist Anthropology
Cosponsored - Oral Presentation Session
Building on more than two decades of ethnographic research in Rwanda, this paper examines the interplay between citizenship and gender in post-genocide Rwanda. Since the end of the 1994 genocide of Tutsi, the Rwandan government has invested in rebuilding the country and modeling good citizenship through a wide variety of practices. These extensive prescriptions for behavior and intensive demands on ordinary Rwandans have attempted to remake rural peasants into model citizens. Building on Aihwa Ong’s concept of “flexible citizenship,” I call this novel form of governance, “recursive citizenship.” Recursive citizenship refers simultaneously to the dense citizenship obligations imposed on ordinary Rwandans and the subjectivities these practices produce. At the same time that the government has produced novel forms of citizenship, it has promoted women’s rights by creating gender quotas in every branch of government, improving legal protections for women and children, and creating new institutions to help ensure protection of their rights. These policies have produced sites of friction where the state’s modernization project encounters cultural notions about the model woman. At times ordinary Rwandan women find it impossible to be good citizens and good women simultaneously.