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Managing Mass Graves in Rwanda and Burundi

Vernaculars of the Right to Truth

Astrid Jamar and Laura Major

In Rwanda and Burundi, governments are exhuming mass graves with the promise that efforts will reveal and protect particular truths about the contested histories of past conflicts and genocides. In this article, we reassess the links between these

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Rwandan Women No More

Female Génocidaires in the Aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide

Erin Jessee

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.

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Neutral evaluators or testimonial connoisseurs? Valuing and evaluating reconciliation in post‐genocide Rwanda

Laura Eramian

Countless reconciliation initiatives – state and non‐state, local and international – have emerged to redress the legacies of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Based on fieldwork with two Rwandan peace‐building organisations, this article takes an ethnographic perspective on how these organisations measure or evaluate ‘how reconciled’ Rwandans are. Organisations’ measurements of reconciliation are based on testimonies they collect from genocide survivors and perpetrators. They read ‘indicators’ into these testimonies to quantify the progress of reconciliation in a given region, but their process of deriving those numbers from testimony is never clear. I argue that organisation staff do not only stake their expertise on ‘objective’ measures of reconciliation that manage the ambiguities of testimony, but also on their performance of gifted subjective intuition to discern ‘authentic’ testimony from that which conceals ongoing enmity. As such, anthropological understandings of modern evaluative practices must take seriously both subjectivity and objectivity as potential sources of power and authority. In the end, evaluating reconciliation may not only be driven by organisational or political demands to produce metrics, but also by organisation staff's search for confirmation of their own worth in the post‐conflict recovery project and for signs that violence will not erupt in Rwanda again.

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‘We Are Poor, So We Keep Quiet’

Anna Berglund

For the small-scale subsistence farmers in the Rwandan rural village, which I call Iwacu, 1 the organisation of everyday life changed from one day to the next, as the quest for ‘modern farming’ made an entrance in 2010. With the vast majority of

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Carceral Repair

Methane Extraction in Lake Kivu, Rwanda

Kristin Doughty

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

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Visiting Rwanda

Accounts of Genocide in Travel Writing

Rachel Moffat

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.

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The Mistakes That Make People

Reconceptualizing Power and Resistance in Rwanda

Will Rollason

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

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The Contribution of Social Movement Theory to Understanding Genocide

Evidence from Rwanda

Aliza Luft

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

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An Unaccountable Love

Healing and Sacrifice in Post-Genocide Rwanda

Nofit Itzhak

healing of members of a Catholic Charismatic community in Rwanda who suffered acute personal loss during and following the 1994 Rwandan genocide. I draw on two terms central to my interlocutors’ conception of their relationship to God—sacrifice and grace

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‘Today, I am no Mutwa1 anymore’

Facets of national unity discourse in present‐day Rwanda

Christiane Adamczyk

In post‐genocide Rwanda, where reconciliation and the re‐building of the Rwandan nation are at the core of domestic politics, a new approach towards ethnicity and a revised narrative of Rwandan histoy form the framework for the promotion of national unity. Given the overarching goal of unification, claims for autochthony as made by one Rwandan NGO triggered an argument with the government and were considered divisionist. By examining possible different meanings given to the notion ‘autochthony’, this article describes the controversy arising from those claims for special status on the national level and their relevance for local processes of identification.