This article explores how the Rwandan state ‘stages’ its diaspora as agents of change. I argue that ‘staging’ – in the sense of creating a specific, positive image – is an important aspect of the present government’s effort to create a new Rwanda of national unity and reconciliation. Although the diaspora mostly is articulated in policy documents in positive terms, there is also a strong acknowledgement of the so-called ‘negative forces’ of the diaspora. Staging the diaspora as agents of change is therefore a means to deal with this ambiguous perception of the diaspora and cultivate only its positive sides, and becomes part of a larger state-building project that is about ‘staging’ or ‘performing’ national unity and asserting state sovereignty. I argue that the Rwandan state performs its sovereignty and governs its hostile diaspora through processes of categorising the diaspora and through processes of inclusion and exclusion of certain categories.
African Studies, 2013, Vol 72, Issue 2, p. 265-284