Accepted Paper:

Iterations of eligibility: on access and competences on the threshold of the Rwandan justice system  


Stefanie Bognitz (University of Johannesburg)

Paper short abstract:

The paper traces actors on the threshold of the Rwandan justice system. Navigating gain and loss, resources are mobilised and competences develop. Eligibility criteria are iterated and negotiated in public mediation forums where actors seize competences by submitting arguments to reality tests.

Paper long abstract:

The paper traces actors on the threshold of the Rwandan justice system. By resorting to the intimate ethnographic method of extended cases, individuals are followed in their tireless pursuit of rights and justice. Against the dynamics of gain and loss, beneficiaries and claimants have to mobilise resources and develop competences. Given the need to navigate new institutional arrangements in local governance structures and being processed through transforming organisational assemblages of local justice, actors' capabilities and strategies are put in focus. The analysis thus follows ways of orientation and sensitisation that are provided to actors on the threshold of the justice system. It aims to pay attention to how iterations and negotiations of eligibility become valid or are discarded. Criteria for eligibility are reiterated and renegotiated in public forums for mediation (Komité y'Abunzi). In these forums of community mediation, actors seize their competences through iteration of eligibility and put their arguments to test. By reiterating eligibility, they take recourse to competences and transform the criteria for eligibility accordingly. Mediators act as intermediaries in their capacity to lay out the rules of engagement in iterations of eligibility and negotiate parties' competences. These insights show that formalisation and institutionalisation of access to justice in Rwanda, not only provide spaces for collaboration, intimacy and critique but make actors seize their competences. It will be elaborated in more detail, how iterations of eligibility translate into the capability to seize competences, especially in an environment of noteworthy social control and formalised structures of compliance.

Panel P045
Tracing eligibilities: moralities, performances, practices (EASA Network for Anthropology of Law and Rights)