Imagining an agrarian future in rural Rwanda: Evidence from Congolese refugees at Mahama camp [article]


Congolese refugees in Rwanda constitute one of the most protracted displaced populations in the world. As durable solutions remain evasive, this article presents Congolese’ own vision for life beyond the camp. Wanting to return to peasantry, their utopian agrarian landscape is articulated as an intentional community where subsistence and autonomy exist within a common property space shared peacefully with now-landless Rwandans. By exploring the archaeologies and ontologies that lay the architectural foundations of this utopia, key assumptions are subverted – notably, that refugees in protracted exile have a limited sense of futurity, and that their return to land within rural Rwanda would necessarily lead to conflict.


Refugees; Land and peace; Rural futurity; Utopia; Critical agrarian studies; Rwanda


  1. Congolese refugees living in camps for over twenty years imagine a post-camp future defined as agrarian and subsistence-first.
  2. Autonomy in the form of an intentional community shared with now-landless Rwandans.
  3. Past livelihoods in the Congo and experience of exile inform their vision for a future around land-based rural livelihoods.
  4. Unsettles the paradigm that land and resources are cause for conflict between refugees and host communities.
  5. Provides new ways to think about durable solutions to situations of protracted displacement.


Parent, Nicolas. 2023. “Imagining an agrarian future in rural Rwanda: Evidence from Congolese refugees at Mahama camp,” Journal of Rural Studies 100, 103014.


This article is available here, on ResearchGate, or through the journal website.