Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Keywords

urban planning; Rwanda; development; informality; slums; eviction


Following the new world order of the post-Cold War era, the rise of developmentalism stressed the moral necessity of installing capitalist models of growth in the global south. The reproduction of narratives of modernity and teleological progression were reproduced in numerous African cities and actualized in policies related to urban development. The consequent trend of urbanization has been the systemic eradication of informal settlements and large-scale displacement to make way for modern, productive urban areas.

One site of this pattern is Kigali, Rwanda. Since the turn of the century, official “vision projects” released by the Rwandan government have reimagined the capital as a modernized city. The manifestation of these policies has displaced thousands of informal housing residents from the more economically desirable parts of Kigali to the periphery of the city. Though national narratives surrounding development push for equity, improved quality of life, and inclusion for all Rwandans, the policies reflect a profit-driven privatization of urban spaces. Reflected in global south cities worldwide, urban spaces have become increasingly exclusive on the basis of socio-economic position.

This research focuses on the emergence of this pattern in Kigali in the Agatare Cell, where the construction of a road stipulated the eviction of 43 informal settlement households. After conducting interviews with all affected households, the qualitative data was interpreted using an inductive coding technique. Alongside quantitative data surrounding the demographics of the area the following themes emerged: significance of place, concerns about compensation, land security, monopolization of information, civic duty associated with development, and safety concerns.

Lay Summary

What happens in cities when there is simply no more room? Who has a right to the city? Oftentimes, a given city's most vulnerable populations are pushed out during periods of urban renewal, especially as cities approach modernity. Informal settlements--often referred to as "slums"--have been increasingly eradicated worldwide without the provision of alternate settlements for the displaced residents. This research investigates this alarming worldwide pattern by studying an instance of displacement in Kigali, Rwanda.