Space and the Ethics of Transition: Rebuilding Rwanda after the 1994 Genocide


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Urban Planning and Design


After conditions of mass violence, spatial rebuilding processes take on added significance as restorative projects with exceptional challenges. This dissertation explores how Rwandan state peacebuilding objectives are imagined, realized, and challenged in the rebuilding of houses and civic spaces after the genocide. A spatial perspective is especially critical in Rwanda, where conflicts build from extreme population density, land shortage, rural restructuring, and cohabitation. After the genocide, spaces have added significance not only in contrast to the aftermath landscape and its memory, but for their explicit roles in how villages are shared and communities rebuilt, and how the government has established order in the built environment and limited citizenship through spatial exclusion. Drawing from ethnographic and historical research, six chapters explore how post-conflict spaces contribute to building and dismantling peace, unity, and progress, and help to reveal the unethical, give form to values and subjectivity, and mark sites of inequality and aspiration.