The Political Economy of Genocide: The Case of Rwanda

Please note: This page refers to a course that has already taken place.

03 - 06 Mar 2014

PRIO, Hausmanns gate 7, Oslo

Kristoffer Lidén


Prof. Philip Verwimp (ULB)

The course is build around the new book Peasants in Power: a political economy of development and genocide in Rwanda, written by Prof. Philip Verwimp and published by Springer Verlag in May 2013. Different parts of the course will deal with different chapters of the book. In each class, secondary literature will used to shed more light on the material than the one presented in the book.

Course Description:

​In April 1994, a campaign of mass murder took place in Rwanda killing at least 500.000 members (about 70%) of the Tutsi ethnic group, a minority in Rwanda, in less then three months time. This campaign was among the most horrific the world has ever seen, because of its speed, its success and the participation of ordinary people armed with farm equipment.

The course will attempt to shed light on this dark page of Rwandan, African and world history by studying in-dept the political, economic and social landscape in Rwanda before the genocide. The approach will cross micro-level (farm, household), meso-level (group, village, institution) and macro-level (regime, state) approaches from various disciplines such as development studies, agrarian studies, economics and ethnicity studies. The overarching framework is a political economy approach to development and genocide.

Prof. Verwimp holds the Marie and Alain Philippson Chair in Sustainable Human Development at the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, Université Libre de Bruxelles.


Teaching Schedule

09.30-10.00 Welcome and introduction
10.00-12.00 Class 1: the Nature of the Second Republic
14.00-16.00 Class 2: the Rwandan Economy

10.00-12.00 Class 3: Non-response to Famine
14.00-16.00 Class 4: the early massacres

10.00-12.00 Class 5: Coup d'état or revenge ?
14.00-16.00 Class 6: participation in genocide

10.00-12.00 Class 7: field work on genocide
13.00-15.00 Class 8: institutions, population and genocide (This will be a panel session with comments by PRIO researchers)
15.00-15.30 Summary and feedback



​Application deadline: Extended to 7 February 2014 - only a few places left. Continous admission.

Essay abstract deadline: 12 March

Essay deadline: 15 April  


​In order to obtain 5 ECTS for the course, participants must get an overview of the readings, participate actively in the lectures and submit a paper of 5000 words by 15 April 2014. An essay proposal should be submitted to by 12 March for approval. The proposal should consist of a research question, an abstract/outline of about 200 words, and a paragraph on how the question relates to the course literature. 


​The deadline for applications has been extended to 7 February 2014. Applications should be brief, and include details about university affiliation, education and a paragraph on current research (e.g. a PhD project). PhD candidates get priority, but others may also apply. Current members of the Resarch School on Peace and Conflict simply register. Please send applications by e-mail to Research School Coordinator Kristoffer Lidén: There is no participation fee, but the cost of transportation and accommodation must be covered by the participants. Six stipends to cover basic accommodation at neighbouring Anker Hotel are available for PhD students who do not have funding for such course participation through their universities. Then you add a sentence on this in your application. Applicants will be notified about the outcome of their application as quickly as possible after the deadline.

Course Literature:

​Main text:

Philip Verwimp, 2013, Peasants in Power: a political economy of development and genocide in Rwanda', Springer Verlag, May 2013.

Additonal reading material

Class 1

* Acemoglu, D and J.Robinson, 2012, Why Nations Fail, Profile Books.

* Desforges, A., 1999, Leave None to tell the story, Human Rights Watch, New York.

* Scott, J., 2000, Seeing like a State, Yale University Press, New Haven

* Prunier, G., 1995, The Rwanda Crises, History of a Genocide


Class 2

* Uvin, P., Aiding Violence: the development enterprise in Rwanda, Kumarian Press, 1998

* André, C. and J.Ph.Platteau, 1998, Land Relations under unbearable stress: Rwanda caught in the Malthusian Trap, Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organisation, vol 34. pp.1-47.


Class 3

* Newbury, D and C.Newbury, 2000. Bringing the peasants back in, The American Historical Review, vol.105, n.3, June, pp.832-877

* Pottier, J., 1993, Taking Stock, Food Marketing reform in Rwanda, 1982-1989, African Affairs, 92, 366, pp.5-30


Class 4

* Report of the International Commission on Human Rights Violations in Rwanda since October 1990, FIDH, Paris

* Olson, J, 1990, The impact of changing socio-economic factors on migration patterns in Rwanda, PhD dissertation, Michigan State University



Class 5

* Guichaoua, André, 2010, de la guerre au genocide, La Découverte

* Strauss, S., 2006, The Order of Genocide, Cornell University Press


Class 6

* Kuran, T., Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification,  Harvard University Press, 1995

* Yanagizawa, D, Propaganda and Conflict: Theory and Evidence from the Rwandan genocide, unpublished manuscript, 2012

* McDoom, O., 2011, It's whom you know:Social Networks, Interpersonal Connections and Participation in Collective Violence, HiCN working paper 140


Class 7

* Hatzfeld, J, 2003, Season of Machetes

* Longman, T., Genocide and socio-political change: massacres in two Rwandan villages, Issue, a Journal of Opinion, vol.XXIII/2, pp.271-273


Class 8

* Platteau, J.P, Social Norms, Insitutions and Economic Development, Harwood, 2001