SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Clark, Phil (2014) 'Bringing the peasants back in, again: state power and local agency in Rwanda's Gacaca Courts.' Journal of Eastern African Studies, 8 (2). pp. 193-213.

Full text not available from this repository.


Rwanda's genocide trials through the gacaca community courts, between 2002 and 2012, have attracted substantial critique and also become a key vehicle for analysing wider political and social dynamics, including policy-making under the Rwandan Patriotic Front. A common criticism of gacaca is that it allowed the Rwandan state to deploy the language of devolved, popularly owned justice while further centralizing and consolidating state power. Based on fieldwork conducted over ten years, including more than 650 interviews and observations of 105 gacaca hearings, the article responds to this criticism and argues that while we should be sceptical of the Rwandan government's overly romantic depiction of gacaca as organic, decentralized justice and critical of other dimensions of state policy, we should be equally sceptical of characterizations of gacaca as simply another means for the state to entrench its power and influence in the countryside. This article contends that both perspectives are reductionist and fail to acknowledge the complex ways in which Rwandan citizens engage with the state and participate in government-initiated community-level processes such as gacaca.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Rwanda, gacaca, Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), justice, structure, agency
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Politics & International Studies
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Department of Politics and International Studies
ISSN: 17531055
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2015 13:40

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item