Decolonizing knowledge production

Studying Agaciro: Moving Beyond Wilsonian Interventionist Knowledge Production (on Rwanda).

The Middle East and North Africa Research Group and the Conflict Research Group kindly invite you to this research seminar in its series on “Methods and Ethics in Fieldwork”. In this series national and international guests share their “story behind the findings” with researchers from different departments, to have a profound reflection on methodological and ethical questions in performing empirical research.

Twenty years after the end of the Rwandan genocide, knowledge production on the country remains a clamorous battle ground of post- and decolonial power and influence. In this session we critically engage with the knowledge production on Rwanda in the West as a way to reflect on the possibilities and limits of knowledge production on (postcolonial) places and subjects ‘far away’ by conceptualizing it as a Wilsonian intervention in the post-colony: paternalistically well-intended at the service of the peace, democracy and free trade liberal triad, as well as silencing, self-contradictory and potentially counterproductive. The Wilsonian interventionist form of knowledge production is coated in a language of critical engagement and care. At the same time it is and allows for a continuous external engagement in view of this Wilsonian triad—a highly particularist view on the good life, cast in universal terms.

As a former journalist/Africa Desk Editor for MO* Magazine and an IR scholar from the Belgian Rwandan diaspora, Dr. Olivia Rutazibwa will reflect on potentially different avenues to produce and consume knowledge. She will do this by discussing the challenges and creative opportunities of a recently started research project on Agaciro (value, self-worth): a philosophy and public policy in post-genocide Rwanda rooted in its precolonial past, centred on the ideals of self-determination, dignity and self-reliance. Rather than inscribing itself firmly into the canon that aims at informing on Rwanda, this research project seeks to contribute to a different mode of imagining, studying and enacting sovereignty in today’s academic and political world, both permeated by the hegemonic principle of the responsibility to protect (R2P).

Olivia Rutazibwa is a Lecturer in European and International Development Studies at the University of Portsmouth. Her research interests focus on the motivations and effects of western ethical foreign policy in the Global South. She completed a PhD on the ‘Problematics of EU Ethical Foreign Policy in Africa and Elsewhere’ at Ghent University. From 2010 to 2013 she worked as Africa desk editor at the Brussels based monthly magazine, MO*.

Practical information

This research seminar will take place in the Meeting room, Department of Conflict and Development Studies, Universiteitstraat 8 (1st floor), Ghent.  The seminar starts at 14:00 and finishes around 15:30. Coffee will be provided.

For more information and registration, please contact: Sigrid.vertommen(at)