Behind the Scenes of the Plastic Bag Ban in Rwanda: Connections to Culture, Power and Sustainability

University essay from Lunds universitet/Humanekologi

Abstract: If Rwanda was in the spotlight of the international media for over 20 years due to the 1994 genocide, today it is mostly owing to its economic resurgence and its development projects, such as Vision 2020. One of its achievements is the prohibition, since 2008, of the production, importation, use and sale of polythene bags on a national scale. This thesis explores the connections to culture, power and sustainability that can be revealed through the plastic bag ban. The framework of the study is inspired by Marcel Mauss’ theory of a total social fact, which helps identify the interactions between various elements, historical, cultural, political and sustainability, pertaining to the plastic bag ban. The collected data compiles information from a qualitative field research and literature. The thesis investigates how the ban on plastic bags is discussed in Rwandan society with a focus not only on political power but also on the different forms of power, namely punishment, law enforcement and discipline. Furthermore, it looks at the effects of the genocide and the resulting transformation of roles and responsibilities for Rwandan women in relation to the plastic bag ban.

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