Rebel and Rule in Burundi, 1972

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When a localised Hutu rebellion and a devastating campaign of repression from the Tutsi-dominated state shook Burundi in 1972, the opposed acts of extreme violence were realised through methods and representations that were curiously symmetrical. Each alternated between moments of wild, unrestrained brutality and methods of regularised, selective violence, attempting to co-opt the support of a target population while eliminating perceived enemies from among them. Through a mirrored structure that explores the interrelations of rebellion and repression, this paper examines how these heterogeneous acts reflect a shared conception of the nature of rule and its relationship to violence at the time, the sequencing of "revolutionary" violence that abolished rival power and "law-preserving" violence that established the system of control and the claim to authority. Furthermore, it considers how representations of each act of violence, made by those who were opposed to or suffered from it, reflected the social and political hazard of both wild and ordered violence, indicating the gulf between the practical success of violent rule and the annulation of authority that it represented.