My recent article, “Women and changing sociolegal landscapes in Rwandan mining formalization,” was published in the interdisciplinary Journal of Rural Studies. A free copy is below. It draws on Critical Legal Pluralism (CLP) in exploring how mining alters and reconstitutes the justice pathways available to rural women in extractive communities.

ABSTRACT: Rwanda has closed artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) in favor of larger corporate enterprises over the last decade. The government and companies argue that his increase in state legal regulation improves outcomes for the estimated 50,000 women near mining sites, including improved protection from discriminatory employment and gender-based violence. This study uses a framework of feminist critical legal pluralism (CLP) to explore how formalization impacts the sociolegal landscapes rural women navigate in extractive communities. Drawing directly from semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, and participant observations, and indirectly from social mapping workshops, the qualitative data from six mine sites were analyzed in NVivo using content analysis. The results demonstrate how formalization changes the justice pathways for women to remedy their mining-related grievances. The key findings indicate that women perceive mining companies not to be regulated by law but to be creators of law and conflict resolution networks, with companies termed here as “legal architects” and “legal managers.” Thus, formalization has not necessarily given women better justice access for mining-related conflicts. Instead, it has altered their challenges from localized stigma and traditional norms with local leaders to unclear conduits vis-a-vis formal mining management. Considering the historical, geographical, and economic dynamics of this sociolegal change, this article contributes to the growing scholarship on the connections between natural resource economies and localized traditional authorities in post-colonies. It calls attention to the dynamic and delicate everyday legalities that determine behaviors and power dynamics in extractive spaces. It argues that such sociolegal realities must be mainstreamed in formalization policy and implementation to better account for rural women.

Please cite as: Munir, L. (2023). Women and changing sociolegal landscapes in Rwandan mining formalization. Journal of Rural Studies97, 167-176.

This article is part of the larger literature analyzing environments of legal pluralism, or places where multiple legal systems interact with each other.