Dr Olivia Umurerwa Rutazibwa

Dr Olivia Umurerwa Rutazibwa

Assistant Professor in Human Rights and Politics

Department of Sociology

Room No
STC S216
Connect with me

Dutch, English, French, Italian
Key Expertise
Decoloniality, Epistemic Blackness, Anticolonial Solidarity, Racism

About me

Dr Olivia Umurerwa Rutazibwa (1979) is a Belgian/Rwandan International Relations scholar and former journalist and Senior Research Fellow of the Johannesburg Institute of Advanced Studies (JIAS), South Africa.  

She holds a PhD in Political Science/International Relations from Ghent University (2013, Belgium), following the doctoral training programme at the European University Institute (2001-6, Italy) and internships at the European Commission in Brussels and the EU Institute for Security Studies in Paris (2003-4). Before joining LSE, she was Senior Lecturer in European and International (Development) Studies at the University of Portsmouth. (2013-21, UK). 

Her research and teaching focuses on ways to decolonise (international) solidarity. Building on epistemic Blackness as methodology, she turns to recovering and reconnecting philosophies and practices of dignity and repair and retreat in the postcolony (e.g. autonomous recovery in Somaliland, agaciro in Rwanda and Black Power in the US, Tricontinentalism and the political thought of Thomas Sankara) to theorise solidarity anticolonially. 

She has published in various (academic) journals (Foreign PolicyMillennium Journal of International Studies, Journal of Humanitarian Affairs, Postcolonial Studies, Ethical Perspectives, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, and Journal of Contemporary European Studies), is the co-editor of The Routledge Handbook of Postcolonial Politics (with Robbie Shilliam, 2018) and Decolonization and Feminisms in Global Teaching and Learning (with Sara de Jong and Rosalba Icaza, Routledge, 2018).  

She is associate editor of International Feminist Journal of Politics and recently joined the editorial boards of International Politics Review and Review of International Studies and the 2021-22 Section and Programme Chair of the Global Development Section of the International Studies Association.  

She is the former Africa desk editor, journalist and columnist at the Brussels based quarterly MO* Magazine and the author of forthcoming non-academic monograph The End of the White World. A Decolonial Manifesto (in Dutch, EPO). In 2011 she delivered a TEDx talk titled: Decolonizing Western Minds; in 2019 she had widely watched conversation on racism [Racism Serves a Purpose – in Dutch, subtitled in English] in the interview collective ZIGO [Zwijgen is Geen Optie – Silence is Not an Option].


Edited volumes/ Special Issues

Edited Volumes
 Routledge Hanbook of Post Decolonization and Feminisms in Globa 

2021 International Politics Reviews: book forum of Isaac Kamola’s Making the World Global: U.S. Universities and the Production of the Global Imaginary (co-editor with Jonneke Koomen - 50%)

2018 Routledge Handbook of Postcolonial Politics (co-editor with Robbie Shilliam – 50%)

2018 Decolonization and Feminisms in Global Teaching and Learning, Routledge (co-editor with Rosalba Icaza and Sara de Jong – 33%)

Journal articles 

2021 ‘Reflections from the forum organizers’, with Koomen, J., International Politics Reviews (2021) online first. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41312-021-00095-0 

2020 ‘Hidden in plain sight. Race/ism and coloniality as far as the eye can see.’ Millennium: Journal of International Studies 48 (2), 221-241

2019 ‘What's There to Mourn? Decolonial Reflections on (the End of) Liberal Humanitarianism.’ Journal of Humanitarian Affairs 1(1)

2016 ‘From the everyday to IR: In Defence of the Strategic Use of the R-word’. Postcolonial Studies 19(2):1-10

2014 ‘Studying Agaciro. Moving beyond Wilsonian Interventionist Knowledge Production on Rwanda’, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 8(4), 291-302

Book chapters

2021 Atuire CA & OU Rutazibwa (July 2021) “An African Reading of the Covid-19 pandemic and the stakes of decolonization” in Human and Social Costs of Covid Response. UK Karunakara, P Chatterjee and AM Miller (eds.). Global Health Justice Partnership: Yale University, New Haven. 

2021 ‘What’s There to Celebrate? What’s There to Mourn? Decolonial Retrievals of Humanitarianism.’ in: Amidst the Debris. Humanitarianism and the End of Liberal Order. eds. Andrea Rigon, Rafia Zakaria, Juliano Fiori, Fernando Espada and Bertrand Taithe, pp. 369-376

2020 ‘Intermezzo I: Knowledge Orders, II: Methodology, III: Academia’ with Bhambra, G., Boatca, M., Hansen, P., Popal, M., Shilliam, R., Suarez-Krabbe, J. in: Ziai, A., Bendix, D., & Müller, F.  Beyond the Master's Tools?: Decolonizing Knowledge Orders, Research Methods and Teaching. Special book series Kilombo: International Relations and Colonial Questions, London: Rowman and Littlefield International

2019 ‘Agaciro. Re-centering Dignity in Development’ with Eric Ndushabandi. in: Escobar, A., Kothari, A., Salleh, A., Acosta, A., Demaria, F. Pluriverse. A Post-Development Dictionary. New Delhi: Columbia University Press.

2019 ‘Who do we think we are?’ with Annick T.R. Wibben, Chapter 5 in: Global Politics. Third Edition, ed. Jenny Edkins and Maja Zehfuss, London: Routledge 

2018 ‘On Babies and Bathwater. Decolonizing International Development.’ Decolonization and Feminisms in Global Teaching and Learning, Routledge, eds. Rosalba Icaza and Sara de Jong, Olivia U. Rutazibwa 

2014 ‘Back to Basics: Decolonizing Democracy in Africa’, Africa South of the Sahara 2015. Routledge

Non-peer reviewed

2020 “In conversation with Olivia U. Rutazibwa” by Paul Gilroy, 18 October UCL Sarah Parker Remond Centre for the Study of Racism and Racialisation podcast (interview)

“IR Should Abandon the Notion of Aid, and Address Racism and Reparations” Foreign Policy, 3 July 2020,  Why Is Mainstream International Relations Blind to Racism? With Gurminder K. Bhambra, Yolande Bouka, Randolph B. Persaud, Vineet Thakur, Duncan Bell, Karen Smith, Toni Haastrup, Seifudein Adem (roundtable essay)

2019 Interview: Olivia Rutazibwa. E-International Relations 28 October 2019 (interview)

2019 Zwijgen is Geen Optie (Belgium) ‘Olivia Rutazibwa: Racisme dient een doel’, (video/podcast interviewee)

2018 ‘Understanding Epistemic Diversity: Decoloniality as a Research Strategy’. ISS (blogpost)

2015 ‘Comforting discomfort of rebel music: some diaspora Legba/Pākehā reflections on Robbie Shilliam’s ‘The Black Pacific’’ review essay in The Disorder of Things (blogpost)