Kristin Conner Doughty

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Rochester, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9230

Approve Date

April 8, 2016

Project Title

Doughty, Dr. Kristin C., U. of Rochester, Rochester, NY - To aid research on 'Threats to Power: Cultural Politics of Energy and Unity in Post-genocide Rwanda'

Over the past ten years, the Rwandan government has intensified efforts to extract methane gas from Lake Kivu, a 2500 square kilometer lake that straddles the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The methane extraction project 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 increasing demand in both energy-strapped countries. The Kivu methane extraction project thus seeks to transform a potential threat into an actual resource in a place marked by histories of violence. My project uses six months of ethnographic research with the Kivu methane extraction project to examine the relationships between official efforts to control violence, people, nature, and energy. I ask specifically, how are the cultural politics of energy, natural disaster, and reconciliation intertwined in post-genocide Rwanda, in official framing and people’s lived experience? My ethnographic work builds on 20 months of fieldwork I have conducted in Rwanda since 2002. Fieldwork will focus in Gisenyi, Rwanda, working with the Kivu Monitoring Program and with people living and working alongside the lake. This project brings together insights from three strands of anthropological scholarship–energy, disaster mitigation, and transitional justice–that, with few exceptions, thus far remain mostly separate, even as energy projects are key ingredients in post-conflict or post-disaster reconstruction agendas. This project will clarify how political violence is related to concepts of vulnerability, victimhood, culpability and change at the heart of anthropological research on energy, natural resources and climate change in the Anthropocene.