Kristin Conner Doughty
Grant TypeHunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Institutional AffiliationRochester, U. of
Grant numberGr. 10044
Approve DateOctober 2, 2020
Project TitleDoughty, Kristin (Rochester, U. of) "Threats to Power"
In recent years, the Rwandan government has intensified efforts to extract methane gas from Lake Kivu on its Western border. Methane extraction has two stated aims: to reduce dangerous levels of unstable gasses dissolved in the lake and thus prevent it from exploding, and to provide much-needed power to meet rapidly increasing demand. The Kivu methane extraction project thus seeks to transform a potential threat into an actual resource in a place marked by histories of violence. Based on 10 months of ethnographic research between 2016 and 2019, my project, Threats to Power, spotlights methane extraction as a condition of possibility for the Rwandan government’s imagined political-economic future, and thus proposes a rethinking of scholarship on post-war recovery by bringing energy and electrification into the same frame as transitional justice. Threats to Power reinterprets post-genocide recovery in Rwanda—and by extension post-conflict contexts more widely—by shifting the story from ethnicity and reconciliation in the capital to energy projects on the border. This project brings together a) prevailing critiques of the Rwandan regime’s unity programming that invite analysis of these wide-reaching claims of threats, and b) growing calls to foreground energy and electrification to how we understand socio-cultural logics and political power. Doing so, I suggest, enables a reassessment of the nature of social repair in the 21st century.