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"Making Do" with Soft Authoritarianism in Pre-Genocide Rwanda

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The article looks at Rwandans' engagement with authoritarianism prior to the 1994 genocide and, more broadly, at life under "soft authoritarian" settings. It argues that Rwandans did not experience state-society relations under pre-genocide regimes as a vertical chain of authority, as is often contended. Instead, they spoke of a felt gap between national and local levels. Engagement with authority was predominantly local and experienced in an ambiguous, yet functional manner rather than simply as coercion. It was also experienced in a more varied manner than is often presumed. Indeed, local experiences of authority were commonly about "making do" with authoritarianism. This should lead scholars to question common frames of authoritarian verticality and the obedience/compliance which authoritarianism is presumed to foster. It should also lead scholars to question simple frames of resistance often proposed when studying authoritarian state-society relations.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2020

This article was made available online on January 15, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "“Making Do” with Soft Authoritarianism in Pre-Genocide Rwanda".

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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