Since the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the current government has arrested approximately 130,000 civilians who were suspected of criminal responsibility. An estimated 2,000 were women, a cohort that remains rarely researched through an ethnographic lens. This article begins to address this oversight by analyzing ethnographic encounters with 8 confessed or convicted female génocidaires from around Rwanda. These encounters reveal that female génocidaires believe they endure gender-based discrimination for having violated taboos that determine appropriate conduct for Rwandan women. However, only female génocidaires with minimal education, wealth, and social capital referenced this gender-based discrimination to minimize their crimes and assert claims of victimization. Conversely, female elites who helped incite the genocide framed their victimization in terms of political betrayal and victor’s justice. This difference is likely informed by the female elites’ participation in the political processes that made the genocide possible, as well as historical precedence for leniency where female elites are concerned.
Female Génocidaires in the Aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide
Methane Extraction in Lake Kivu, Rwanda
A new building came to dominate the Kigali, Rwanda city skyline in 2016. The highly publicized Kigali Convention Centre (KCC), which officially opened on 8 July 2016 to host the 27th African Union summit, was notable as much for its traditional
Reconceptualizing Power and Resistance in Rwanda
to account adequately for what happens in social life. I make this case based on ethnographic material I gathered during research on motorcycle taxi drivers in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. Motorcyclists are called motards (in French) or abamotari (in
Accounts of Genocide in Travel Writing
The massacre sites of Rwanda have become, like Auschwitz or Ground Zero, forms of museums preserved in remembrance. In 1995, Philip Gourevitch traveled to Rwanda to see them, explaining that he wanted to gain some understanding of the recent atrocities. Gourevitch forces himself to look because this enables him to present a detailed journalistic account but, more uncomfortably, he is satisfying his own curiosity, as tourists do. Dervla Murphy's Visiting Rwanda (1998) is a similarly intense account of time spent with NGOs, visiting survivors, and hearing excruciating accounts of the genocide. Such graphic accounts of time spent in a war zone raise issues concerning curiosity about death and sites of atrocity. The writers must address the issue of the extent of their own curiosity and also demonstrate that they have a reason to publish such sensitive matter. Gourevitch and Murphy, therefore, must be aware of a difficult paradox in their work: the intensity of events represented in their narratives makes their accounts more pressing but, as a result, they may be said to profit from the conflict.
Evidence from Rwanda
article combines primary fieldwork with secondary oral testimonies from participants in the Rwandan genocide as well as Human Rights Watch organization reports from the decade prior to, and during, the genocide to demonstrate how a social movement approach
Ambiguity and excess in “postethnic” Rwanda
Following the 1994 genocide, the government of Rwanda embarked on a “deethnicization” campaign to outlaw Tutsi, Hutu, and Twa labels and replace them with a pan-Rwandan national identity. Since then, to use ethnic labels means risking accusations of “divisionism” or perpetuating ethnic schisms. Based on one year of ethnographic fieldwork in the university town of Butare, I argue that the absence of ethnic labels produces practical interpretive problems for Rwandans because of the excess of possible ways of interpreting what people mean when they evaluate each other's conduct in everyday talk. I trace the historical entanglement of ethnicity with class, rural/urban, occupational, and moral distinctions such that the content of ethnic stereotypes can be evoked even without ethnic labels. In so doing, I aim to enrich understandings of both the power and danger inherent in the ambiguous place of ethnicity in Rwanda's “postethnic” moment.
History, Politics, and Exile Identity among Rwandan Rebels in the Eastern Congo Conflict
This article analyzes how the 1994 genocide in Rwanda is recalled and described by members of a Hutu rebel group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) whose leadership can be linked to the 1994 atrocities in Rwanda. The article explores how individuals belonging to this rebel group, currently operating in the eastern territories of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), articulate, contest, and oppose the dominant narrative of the Rwandan genocide. Based on ethnographic fieldwork with members of the FDLR in a rebel camp, this article shows how a community of exiled fighters and second-generation Hutu refugees contest the official version of genocide by constructing a counterhistory of it. Through organized practices such as political demonstrations and military performances, it further shows how political ideologies and violence are being manufactured and reproduced within a setting of military control.
This article examines the German response to Rwanda's genocide, an important concern that previous research largely has ignored. Like the United States, Great Britain, France (up to mid-June l994) and other powers, Germany chose the role of bystander, observing and condemning the genocide, but failing to act. At first glance, this might appear unsurprising. The frequently cited "culture of reticence" in foreign affairs would seem to explain this posture of inaction. However, a second look uncovers several factors that could lead one to expect a German engagement in efforts to halt the genocide. By l994, Germany had contributed military and medical units to ten humanitarian efforts, including two United Nations missions in Cambodia (1991-1993) and in Somalia (1992-1994). Moreover, the Federal Republic's staunch support for human rights, as well as its considerable diplomatic and foreign aid presence in Rwanda, might have suggested a visible response to the mounting evidence of genocide. Why did this not occur? Why was there so little public discussion of German obligations to take steps to halt the genocide? On the one hand, answers to these questions are important in order to test previous research on the factors that led to states' participation in humanitarian interventions. On the other, they are significant for the inner-German debate about history and memory. Can the memory of the Holocaust inform debates about Germany's international obligations? How and under what circumstances might considerations of political morality shape foreign policy decisions?
Regulations, ‘Mistakes’ and Personhood amongst Kigali’s Motari
André Crashes a Motorbike André is a wily and experienced motorcycle taxi driver who has spent fifteen years driving without a license because he can neither read nor write. One night in 2015, at a bar in Kigali, Rwanda, he told me about an
Benjamin Abrams and Giovanni A. Travaglino
This issue of Contention is definitvely international, featuring data and cases from dozens of countries including Rwanda and China. We are proud to be a journal sought out by scholars working on diverse non-Western cases as well as by those