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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Precarious Position of Politics in Popular Imagination: The Burundian Case
Author:Turner, SimonISNI
Periodical:Journal of Eastern African Studies
Geographic term:Burundi
Politics and Government
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/17531050701218874
Abstract:Based on ethnographic fieldwork among Burundians in exile (Tanzania, Kenya, Belgium and Denmark) and at home in Burundi, this article explores the perception and position of politics in popular imagination. It argues that politics is perceived ambiguously. On the one hand, politics is seen to corrupt those involved - economically and not least morally. On the other hand, pure politics is perceived as untainted by moral corruption. The popular critique of politics and politicians is thus that they are not political enough - they have lost sight of political ideology and only see power and money. This unresolved and irresolvable paradox is the subject of much debate - especially among the Burundian diaspora - and is what compels most Burundians to continue to discuss politics in spite of their declared dislike of the issue. It is argued that such paradoxes and ambiguities in perceptions of politics may fruitfully be analysed through rumours and conspiracy theories. Through rumours and conspiracy theories about political adversaries and other powerful public figures, ordinary Burundians are able to express their fears, hopes and anxieties. Attitudes and opinions that would not emerge in interviews or other discourse are set free in rumours. By comparing these various levels and kinds of discourse, a picture emerges of public imagination on politics - revealing the ambiguities and paradoxes that drive the process. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]