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From rural rebellion to urban uprising? A socio-spatial perspective on Bujumbura's conflict history

Tomas Van Acker (UGent)
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Abstract
Recent scholarship has observed a changing trend in patterns of conflict in Africa, from rural armed violence to urban protest and rioting. In 2015, Burundi’s capital Bujumbura saw mass demonstrations against a third term for president Nkurunziza. After being met with fierce repression and hijacked by a failed military coup attempt, the protest movement quickly militarized into an urban guerrilla campaign. The Nkurunziza regime, which is rooted in a Hutu rebel movement and has an explicit rural powerbase, was quick to denounce the uprising as an urban phenomenon, limited to specific neighborhoods which during the civil war acquired an explicit Tutsi character. Rather than reading these protests as a shift from rural to urban contestation, this article explains recent events by looking at Bujumbura’s historical trajectory through war and peace. An analysis of the interaction between socio-spatial legacies of conflict, identity and power reveals a nuanced picture of the recent uprising, with not only important intra-urban variations but also a less dichotomous relationship between city and the rural hinterlands than is often assumed in Burundi, one of the least urbanized countries in the world.
Keywords
Burundi, Bujumbura, conflict, rebellion, protests, identity, rural, urban

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MLA
Van Acker, Tomas. “From Rural Rebellion to Urban Uprising? A Socio-spatial Perspective on Bujumbura’s Conflict History.” JOURNAL OF EASTERN AFRICAN STUDIES 12.2 (2018): 310–328. Print.
APA
Van Acker, Tomas. (2018). From rural rebellion to urban uprising? A socio-spatial perspective on Bujumbura’s conflict history. JOURNAL OF EASTERN AFRICAN STUDIES, 12(2), 310–328.
Chicago author-date
Van Acker, Tomas. 2018. “From Rural Rebellion to Urban Uprising? A Socio-spatial Perspective on Bujumbura’s Conflict History.” Journal of Eastern African Studies 12 (2): 310–328.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Van Acker, Tomas. 2018. “From Rural Rebellion to Urban Uprising? A Socio-spatial Perspective on Bujumbura’s Conflict History.” Journal of Eastern African Studies 12 (2): 310–328.
Vancouver
1.
Van Acker T. From rural rebellion to urban uprising? A socio-spatial perspective on Bujumbura’s conflict history. JOURNAL OF EASTERN AFRICAN STUDIES. 2018;12(2):310–28.
IEEE
[1]
T. Van Acker, “From rural rebellion to urban uprising? A socio-spatial perspective on Bujumbura’s conflict history,” JOURNAL OF EASTERN AFRICAN STUDIES, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 310–328, 2018.
@article{8591337,
  abstract     = {Recent scholarship has observed a changing trend in patterns of conflict in Africa, from rural armed violence to urban protest and rioting. In 2015, Burundi’s capital Bujumbura saw mass demonstrations against a third term for president Nkurunziza. After being met with fierce repression and hijacked by a failed military coup attempt, the protest movement quickly militarized into an urban guerrilla campaign. The Nkurunziza regime, which is rooted in a Hutu rebel movement and has an explicit rural powerbase, was quick to denounce the uprising as an urban phenomenon, limited to specific neighborhoods which during the civil war acquired an explicit Tutsi character. Rather than reading these protests as a shift from rural to urban contestation, this article explains recent events by looking at Bujumbura’s historical trajectory through war and peace. An analysis of the interaction between socio-spatial legacies of conflict, identity and power
reveals a nuanced picture of the recent uprising, with not only important intra-urban variations but also a less dichotomous relationship between city and the rural hinterlands than is often assumed in Burundi, one of the least urbanized countries in the world.},
  author       = {Van Acker, Tomas},
  issn         = {1753-1055},
  journal      = {JOURNAL OF EASTERN AFRICAN STUDIES},
  keywords     = {Burundi,Bujumbura,conflict,rebellion,protests,identity,rural,urban},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {310--328},
  title        = {From rural rebellion to urban uprising? A socio-spatial perspective on Bujumbura's conflict history},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17531055.2018.1459827},
  volume       = {12},
  year         = {2018},
}

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