Rebranding Rwanda's peacekeeping identity during post-conflict transition

Holmes, G. and Buscaglia, I. (2019). Rebranding Rwanda's peacekeeping identity during post-conflict transition. In: Grayson, H. and Hitchcott, N. eds. Rwanda Since 1994: Stories of Change. Francophone Postcolonial Studies (10). Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, pp. 104–124.



Scholars have contended that mediatized narratives about Rwanda's domestic and foreign security policies facilitate implementation of the RPF's centralized state-building project, and have argued that official security promoted in policy discourse, state-owned media and via the social media of Rwandan officials and their supporters, legitimize and strengthen the powerbase of the RPF and military elites. Scholars have also identified how security narratives are used as a propaganda tool to restrict domestic public space and control and to discipline Rwandan citizens. Yet how mediatized security narratives serve to 'market' Rwanda as a competitive troop-contributing country (TCC) and peacekeeping provider, and inform Rwanda's broader rebrand after civil war and genocide, has not been considered. Drawing on recent theorizing of 'nation branding', we examine how mediatized security narratives are used as part of the RPF's public diplomacy strategy to establish and stabilize post-conflict Rwanda's peacekeeping identity and brand image as a TCC. We do so by undertaking an analysis of media discourse published by the state-owned English-language national newspaper The New Times, and two 'twitter storms' following sexual exploitation and abuse in the Central African Republic. Specifically, the chapter asks, How is the current RPF government using mediatized security narratives as a nation-branding tool after genocide and civil war? We argue that mediatized security narratives are used by the RPF to erase Rwanda's negative brand informed by the frameworks of victimology, poverty and violence, and to reposition Rwanda as an emerging strategic player in international peacekeeping. The RPF achieves this by 'niche building' and later mimicking the public diplomacy strategies of middle powers in order to present Rwanda as a catalyst and facilitator of contemporary peacekeeping policy and practice.

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