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Cambridge University Press
Expected online publication date:
October 2024
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Book description

Rwanda has been the subject of much research following the genocide against the Tutsi ethnic group in 1994. Moving beyond recent histories which examine Rwanda's past predominantly through the lens of this tragic event, Filip Reyntjens utilises a longue durée framework to provide new insights into historical developments over the last hundred and fifty years. Tracking the foundations of modern Rwanda from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day, this study offers the first comprehensive examination of both the political continuities and ruptures which have shaped the country. Reyntjens examines the 19th century precolonial polity, colonisation from the end of the 19th century; the revolution of 1959-1961 followed by independence in 1962; and the 1994 genocide followed by the seizure of power by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). Across these periods of dramatic transition this study demonstrates the role of both political constancy and change, allowing readers to reshape their understanding of Rwanda's political history.


‘For four decades Filip Reyntjens has provided essential, insightful analyses of Rwandan political culture. This indispensable book adds crucial new perspectives: one cannot understand the frailty of the structures behind Rwanda’s aura of strength today, without understanding the intrigue and authoritarian practices that have marked Rwandan political culture for two centuries - at the royal court, under colonial power, and in presidential overreach.’

David Newbury - Smith College

‘Reyntjens’ Modern Rwanda is essential reading for those interested in the politics of violence in Rwanda and beyond. Through analysis of both critical junctures and the longue durée, Reyntjens guides the reader through key political issues: state-building, ethnicity, the changing nature of patron-client relationships, and militarisation as governance.’

Susan Thomson - Colgate University

‘As a preeminent observer of pre- and post-genocide Rwanda, Reyntjens offers an exhaustive and detailed foray into the major political continuities and critical junctures the country has known. Covering 150 years of Rwandan political history, the book is carefully built on the author’s extensive knowledge of Rwanda and its scholarship, and the wealth of archival material and grey literature he has brought together over the course of his career. This longue durée look at Rwanda is essential reading for those seeking to delve into the country’s complex history and the debates it has given rise to.’

Marie-Eve Desrosiers - University of Ottawa


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