South Korean Civic Actors in Rwanda: promoting rural development and an emerging civil society in contexts controlled by the state

W.W. Nauta, T.J. Lee

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


As an ‘emerging power’ South Korea has designated Rwanda -eager to implement an ‘East Asian model’ of development- as one of its partnership countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. A relative newcomer in providing ODA to Africa, Korea aims to share its experience in Rural Development with Rwanda by piloting its Saemaul Undong (New Village Movement) programme, originally designed to modernize Korean rural areas in the 1970s. Based upon the three slogans, ‘diligence’, ‘self-help’ and ‘cooperation’ this programme seems to resonate well with the development ambitions and programmes of the Rwandan government. Saemaul Undong is implemented in Rwanda involving a number of Korean development actors. Especially for Korean NGOs, promoting rural development and an emerging civil society in rural Rwandan contexts is challenging as their activities are strongly shaped and controlled by the Rwandan state. Employing Michel Foucault’s concept of ‘pastoral power’ (1982), characterized by a totalizing and individualizing dimension, aids us to recognize the influence of the state on an emerging civil society. Nevertheless, while the field research indeed shows that Korean NGOs are curtailed in their activities, these organizations do manage to open up spaces to promote organization and participation of rural Rwandans. These may prove to be the seeds for an emerging civil society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAfrican-Asian Encounters: new cooperations and dependencies
EditorsA. Graff, A. Hashim
Place of PublicationLeiden
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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