Ethnicised Politics: Patterns of Interpretation of Rwandans and Burundians
Keywordsethnicised politics, ethnicised conflict, politico-institutional systems, Rwanda, Burundi
DOAJ:Law and Political Science
Political science (General)
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Abstract&lt;div&gt;Following Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann (1991) this study focuses on taken-for-granted notions, i.e. knowledge (defining ethnicised politics asexclusion&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;interpreted with reference to ethnic categories). This represents a departure from the conventional academic discussion of ethnicised politics, which focuses&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;on exclusion inherent to the structures of political systems when seeking to explain violent conflict aligned along ethnic cleavages. The study compares two&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;neighbouring countries, Rwanda and Burundi, where different institutional models have been introduced to overcome ethnicised politics following comparable&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;episodes of ethnic violence. Whereas the Rwandan system avoids political representation based on ethnic categories, the Burundian system prescribes ethnic&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;quotas. Semi-standardised interviews with twenty-two Rwandans and twenty Burundians conducted between September 2007 and May 2008 investigated ethnicised&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;politics as patterns of interpretation (i.e. knowledge). The study found that notwithstanding the different political institutional systems in Rwanda and&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Burundi (both aiming to overcome ethnicised politics), exclusion in both systems is interpreted with reference to ethnic categories, i.e. politics are ethnicised&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;in both countries. This result points to the importance of conceiving ethnicised politics as historically produced knowledge, i.e. patterns of interpretation.&lt;/div&gt;
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