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Luka Avramovic


Year of study:


Reframing Rwandan Development: A Study of Culture and Ethnicity


Western academic literature and governments often point to bad contemporary policies and weak state power as key barriers to development in African nations. Yet, these misguided assertions focus on the symptom rather than the cause of the continent’s so-called ‘underdevelopment’. To understand the political realities of post-independence African states, this analysis will seek to study their evolution through a new lens – one that emphasises the complex dynamics between development and ethnicity. Interactions with imperialism, extractivism and neo-colonialism have left countries, like Rwanda, with ethnic divides sown into their socio-political fabric. Therefore, to evaluate the distinctiveness of Rwandan development, one must comprehend the burdens of such socially disruptive processes, the legacies left behind by colonisation, and the ways in which they continue to afflict institutions, decades after independence.
Accordingly, as its primary focus, this research will discuss the relationship between ethnicity and development of Rwanda in a comparative fashion over the past century. Theoretically, this dissertation will seek to critique and refine a traditional development theory to the socio-cultural realities of ethnically diverse countries. The case study of Rwanda will combine a mixed-method approach of analysis, sourced from interdisciplinary historical, anthropological, and institutional studies. Through a standard plausibility probe, a reformed institutional theory will indicate that a nuanced understanding of how culture impacts politics is better suited to describing and analysing Rwanda’s development path. Hopefully, this research will contribute to the burgeoning literature that examines and evaluates countries’ idiosyncrasies with the aim of developing better solutions to developing countries’ challenges.


Almost four years ago, I decided to leave my hometown of Brussels to study in Glasgow; a city my Serbian and Maltese parents were not entirely enamoured by. Despite this, I was excited by the opportunity to study a plethora of different subjects, before settling on politics. Last year, I returned to French-speaking Geneva during my studies abroad, where I advanced my interest in African politics within academia and the workplace. Now that my research focuses on the interdisciplinary field of development studies, I believe that taking ideas and theories from a wide range of topics is necessary to inform our outlook on the world and its challenges. When I’m not cooped up on floor 11 of the library, you’ll find me struggling to read novels, playing chess and FIFA or on my way to a sunnier part of the world.

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