My name is Jordan Broutman, and I am a senior history major at the College of Wooster. I grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago and I recently finished my senior independent study. I wrote my thesis on Rwandan genocide memory in film, public memory, and memoir. I first became interested in Rwanda after doing a small research project on the genocide as part of a class with Prof. Ibra Sene. I then studied abroad in Rwanda in the fall of 2011 with SIT Rwanda. This past winter break I received a generous Copeland Fund to return to Rwanda and photograph Rwandan sites of massacre. I petitioned and received permission from the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide to conduct research. This past winter break I visited all seven national memorials and several other important Rwandan memorial sites. The research I conducted contributed to one of my I.S. chapters on Rwandan memorialization and commemoration.
It is beyond the scope of this website to provide a comprehensive overview of Rwandan history. Complex and highly politicized, I spent considerable time analyzing Rwandan history in my I.S. Today the genocide is the dominant event in Rwandan historical and political discourse. Its dominance can be seen in recent representations of Rwandan history in which the genocide becomes the historical fulcrum to all past events. This should not be surprising considering the hundreds of thousands who died over 100 days in 1994. In addition to preserving artifacts and human remains from the massacres, Rwandan memorial sites must be viewed as preserving a horrifying historical moment. Considering Rwanda is a country in which perpetrators and survivors live side by side, preserving these narratives historically hold large consequences (both good and bad) to reconciliation and peacebuilding. I have also included two sections of my I.S. that look at how these sites create a constructed sense of witnessing and how these memorials function as sites of mourning.
This digital history project displays the photographs I took during my visit. Each photograph is itemized with bibliographic information, a description, and by collection. Additionally through Omeka's Exhibit Builder program I have built five photo exhibitions that describe the experience of visiting these massacre sites. This project contains graphic images including human remains, blood, and instruments of sexual violence. By displaying these photographs I do not intend to traumatize anyone. I intend to illustrate aspects of Rwanda's current memorialization mode, one in which preservation plays a leading role. What occurred at these massacres was extremely disturbing, tragic, and upsetting. I encourage anyone with second thoughts to not view these photographs.
Photo: Kibuye, Rwanda January 2013.
Finally, I want to express thanks to all the individuals who made my trip and project possible. First and foremost I want to thank the Copeland Fund for giving me the opporutnity to go back to Rwanda. I also want to thank the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide for granting me research permission. Lastly I want to thank my two advisors Prof. ibra Sene and Prof. Greg Shaya, my friends, and my family for their support.