HomeFor Further Reading

For Further Reading


Alduy, Cécile. “Telling Stories About the Stories We Tell.” Boston Review, September 19,



In this interview with the Boston Review, We Wish to Inform You author Phillip Gourevitch discusses the challenges of remembering atrocity. He speaks of a “fetishization of memory,” or an unquestioned belief in a duty to remember atrocity. He makes a case that such memory risks fostering grudges and divisions. Gourevitch also answers criticisms to his writings that hold Paul Kagame to a high regard.


Ames, Paul. “Rwanda’s Unburied Past.” Columbian. Vancouver, Wash., November 25,

1996, sec. Region/Nation/World.


Journalist Paul Ames reports from the Nyamata and Ntarama massacre sites in 1996. He interviews a Tutsi survivor and a Hutu survivor. At the Nyamata church, community began to bury bodies in a pit dug into the sanctuary. The Hutu survivor hid Tutsi in his home and subsequently fled the Interahamwe. In 1996 a memorial at Ntarama existed in a tent beside the church consisting of bones gathered from the area. The Hutu survivor interviewed at Ntarama explained that they did not immediately bury them out of necessity to show the world what happened. While they did begin the process of burying the bodies in mass graves, the article demonstrates that bodies were still viewed as evidence and necessary for display at memorials. Memorials thus become not only a place of grief, but also constitute a place of evidence and documentation.


Barker, Greg. Ghosts of Rwanda. British Broadcasting Corporation, Silverbridge

             Productions, and PBS Home Video: distributed by Paramount Home

             Entertainment, 2004.


The 2004 PBS Frontline documentary Ghosts of Rwanda highlights the failure of the international community to intervene. The film interviews Paul Kagame, Roméo Dallaire, Madeleine Albright, and many other key members of the international community. The film illustrates how the international community knew that genocide was occurring and did next to nothing. The film does not mention RPA war crimes or a Rwandan historical context. The film appears to have been produced to shock a Western audience.



Blum, Andrew. “Searching for Answers, And Discovering That There Are None.” New

              York Times. New York, N.Y., United States, May 1, 2005, sec. 5.


In a New York Times article, journalist Andrew Blum (a second generation Holocaust survivor) describes visiting the Gisozi and Nyamata genocide memorials. He begins the article by describing his visit to the site of the Wansea conference. He came to the memorial site expecting to learn more about the Holocaust, but instead he left feeling unable to make rational sense of what happened. He went to Rwanda with the hope the ‘freshness’ of the Rwandan genocide might provide him with more answers to the concept of genocide. Instead, he found contradictions between the historical perspective of the memorial and the genocide’s reality in every day Rwandan life. He describes visiting the bodies and decaying artifacts represented at the Nyamata memorial as “relieving.” The overwhelming nature of the stench somehow exempted him from having to understand what happened. Instead of a rational explanation of the genocide, the experience became a ‘mere’ overwhelming sensory experience. Guyer cites this specific idea in her article “Rwanda’s Bones.”  



Cahn, Diana. “Rwandans exhume genocide victims for proper burial.” The Associated

              Press.August 7, 1997. Date Accessed: 2013/01/17. www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics



Reporting from the Nyamata site in 1997, journalist Diana Cahn briefly sketches the burial process at Nyamata. Initially the Catholic Priest refused to allow for burials within the church, even thought the building was no longer used as a place of worship. Residents expressed initial hesitance to burial in first few years in order to show the international community what happened. Additionally, the community had little money for the mass burials. They received money from the government and other organizations to dig a crypt inside the Church and eight crypts outside. The article interviews one local official who describes this process of burial as necessary for creating a place for people to mourn and pray for their loved ones. Proper burial becomes a way for giving the dead dignity. The article’s brief interviews with residents describe the genocide as an unavoidable reality. People are forced to live their daily lives despite their traumatic memories.


Dallaire, Roméo. Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda.

(Reprint. Da Capo Press, 2004).


Lt. General Dallaire’s 2003 account of his tour leading of duty leading UNAMIR serves as an eyewitness account to the international community failure in 1994. He provides a detailed narrative that bares witness to the UN’s negligence of the UNAMIR command in spite of evidence of genocide. He showcases the emerging political extremism in the political and military dynamics during the months before April, 1994. His account goes into great detail to attest to the UN and international community’s failure to intervene. He also showcases his own personal descent towards PTSD through detailing the horrifying scenes of genocide and its effect on his memory. 


“Former British premier says Rwandan genocide deaths ‘incomprehensible.’” BBC

Monitoring Africa. London, United Kingdom, May 10, 2009. http://search.proquest.com/docview/458386652.


This BBC monitoring article re-prints a May 2009 New Time article reports Tony Blair's visit to Rwanda In May of 2009. Blair visited the Nyamata Genocide Memorial and expressed his grief and incomprehensibility of the numbers of lives lost during the genocide. He pledged never again, but also remarked on what he views as the country's transformation since 1994. He describes the country as exhibiting compassion for its people, which in his view represents a change in its history. This visit coincides with Rwanda's entrance into the commonwealth and reflects the developing partnership between the Anglophone community and the current Rwandan government. Blair traveled to Rwanda in 2009 in order to launch his "Africa Governance Initiative." His visiting the Nyamata memorial symbolizes the ways in which the public memory at these memorials is used as part of the state's interactions with foreign diplomats.


“Genocide Memorials Proposed As World Heritage.” AllAfrica.com. Washington, July 6,

2012. http://search.proquest.com/docview/1023840641.


This July, 2012 article from AllAfrica.com briefly announces Rwanda's proposal for UNESCO world heritage site status at several genocide memorial sites. The sites include the Kigali Genocide memorial, Nyamata, Bisesero, and Murambi. The status would pay Rwanda funds for preservation and security at sites. This article reflects a lot of the structural and monetary limitations I observed first hand at memorials such as Bisesero. It is expensive to maintain these sites.


“Genocide memorial site bombed,” The New Times, March 26, 2007. www.newtimes.co.rw.


The Rwandan daily The New Times reported a bombing at the Kigali Genocide Memorial on March 26, 2007. The bombing illustrates that the memorials exist as a site of contention amongst Rwandans. Only thirteen years removed from the genocide at the time, the bombing hinted at a society still struggling to reconcile.


“Grenade attack at memorial kills policeman,” The New Times, April 12, 2008.



An additional attack a year later at KGM showcased a continued discontent amongst Hutu at commemoration. The attack occurred amongst several acts of mental and physical violence performed by perpetrators against Tutsi survivors and commemoration sites.


Gourevitch, Philip. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our

Families: Stories from Rwanda. 1st ed. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux,



American journalist Phillip Gourevitch’s account brought the Rwandan genocide to a mass western audience in the late 1990s. Gourevitch arrived in post-genocide Rwanda in 1996 and gathered various stories from survivors and perpetrators. He brought such stories as Paul Rusesabagina’s story of protecting over a thousand Rwandans at the Hotel Mille Collines. He interviews several génocidaires living in exile and current Rwandan President Paul Kagame.


Hatzfeld, Jean. Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak. New York: Other Press,



In Life Laid Bare, French war correspondent Jean Hatzfield interviewed fourteen survivors from the Nyamata and Ntarama villages. The book tells their story, specifically stories of surviving the genocide and the challenges presented afterwards in continuing on with their lives. Several interviewees either survived the church massacres or had family who died inside. These survivors explain what the memorials mean to them. Overall, Hatzfield’s journalist account gives voice to a traumatized Tutsi population in one of the most infamous massacre regions from the genocide.


———. Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak. Picador, 2006.


In his second collection of Rwandan testimony, French journalist Jean Hatzfield presents testimony of several Hutu perpetrators from the same Nyamata region as Life Laid Bare. He presents a chilling account of killers who will openly talk about the murders, yet distance themselves from openly expressing any remorse for their crimes. Interviewed in prison, the killers talk rather about the organization of the killings, the feelings of collective community during the murders, and how the killings felt like any other job. The work complicates any study attempting to discern why the Hutu perpetrators chose to kill.


Kanyesigye, Frank. “Gicumbi to Host Liberation Museum.” The New Times, December 18,

2012. http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/index.php?i=15210&a=61908.


This article from the Rwandan daily The New Times announced a RPF liberation museum in the northern province of Rwanda. Northerners suffered during the war. Many suffered at the hands of the RPA, while other got caught in the crossfire and moved away into refugee camps. A RPF museum re-emphasizes the ways in which the government applied the official narrative at will. It remains to be seen how northerners react to the museum.


Kayigamba, Jean-Baptiste. “Rwanda-Religion: Communities turning Churches in Shrines.”

IPS-Inter Press Service. September 16, 1997.


This article looks at the debate between Rwandan civil society and the Catholic Church over burying victims in the Nyamata church. The Archbishop of Kigali cited canon law stating that only the Pope and bishops can be buried within church premises. The local community pulled together to build the Nyamata gravesite, and with government support wanted to turn the church into a shrine for the dead. Prime Minister Celestin Rwigema describes it as a way to make Rwandans aware of the barbarity they inflicted on each other in the past. The shrine strategy in this sense seems to take on a national character. By giving the dead an almost spiritual character, one may read the national government instituting a culture of guilt in order to maintain moral power over a divided society. But a more local perspective states that the dead died in the church, so they should be buried in the church as a memory to its failure to protect them.


Keane, Fergal. Season of Blood: a Rwandan Journey. (1st ed. London; New York: Viking,



Irish BBC journalist Fergal Keane reported from RPF and RGF territory at the tail end of the genocide. In his account he bares witness to the aftermath of the Nyarubuye massacre and seeks out the Hutu bureaucrat responsible for orchestrating it in a Tanzanian refugee camp. He observes the RPF in action and then visits RGF territory. While in RGF controlled Butare he joins a convoy of Tutsi children sent by Butare bureaucrats to Burundi for safety. His account argues that there existed an unexplainable and unsettling evil in Rwanda. He emphasizes that his failure to find the source of this evil effected him long after he left Rwanda. Despite his attempts to remain neutral, the account is very pro-RPF. He endorses the RPF government in 1995 and his view of history corresponds with the linear narrative perspective.


Koff, Clea. The Bone Woman: Among the Dead in Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo.

London: Atlantic, 2004.


Forensic anthropologist Clea Koff was part of the UN Tribunal team that exhumed bodies at massacre sites in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. Her account details the exhumation and identification process in Kibuye, Kigali, Croatia, and Kosovo. She argues that the bodies provide physical proof against genocide denial, but they also contain a personal significance to relatives and survivors. Relatives and survivors cane out determined to identify the remains of their love ones. Her book also shows that officials and survivors on the local were determined to create memorials without a presence from the national government. These sites don’t appear at first to be a part of nation building. The book also acknowledges the continuing war in Zaire as Koff witnesses an RPF execution of two Hutus trying to re-enter Rwanda by Lake Kivu. 


“Maintenance of Memorial Sites a Collective Responsibility - CNLG.” AllAfrica.com.

Washington, April 17, 2012. http://search.proquest.com/docview/1001567265.


In this April 2012 article, CNLG Executive Secretary Jean de Dieu Mucyo expands memorial site preservation from a government responsibility to a collective responsibility. He states, "It shouldn't be looked at as a responsibility of the government only; every Rwandan should have a stake in the maintenance of the memorial sites." Bisesero in particular has fallen into disrepair. The article explains that Bisesero raised concerns of collapsing in 2010, and renovations slowly commenced in 2011. CNLG claims that renovation of one memorial site costs rwf100 million. As a result, the article advocates for citizens to take initiative at local memorials. This article reveals the memorial sites budgetary issues pertaining to preservation. At the same time, the language used by Mucyo demonstrates how the government speaks to the public with a collective voice. This does not leave public space to debate against their model of memorialization.


        “Many of us may have only a vague recollection of the atrocities that took place.”          

Pittsburgh Post - Gazette. September 24, 2000, sec. WORLD.


This Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article reports from the Nyamata memorial site. The newspaper interviews survivor and memorial caretaker Tharcisse Mukama. The article appears ahistorical, generally describing the conflict as a simmering ethnic rivalry. The article also interviews Dancira Nyiranazugu, survivor and caretaker of the Ntarama memorial. The article discusses how the two caretakers view their jobs.


Mulugeta, Samson. "Rwanda Election Haunted / by Past People Split on how to Handle

Genocide." Newsday, Aug 25,2003.



This 2003 article from the time of Rwanda's first Presidential elections provides a glimpse to how Kagame used the memory of the genocide to campaign for President. The article reports that at one rally he asked the crowd to remember those who died in 1994 and to "confirm those who brought you peace and security." He also said that by voting for him "you will be protected." The article also reveals Rwanda's descent to a one-party state. Kagame's moderate Hutu opponent Faustin Twagiramungu explains that Kagame has instituted a culture of fear and obedience that impedes the democratic process. His party was outlawed and many party observers arrested.


Ngowi, Rodrique. “Genocide survivors guard the remains of the murdered multitudes.” The

Associated Press. April 2, 2004. Date Accessed: January 27, 2013.



Journalist Rodrique Ngowi interviews Dancila Nyirabazungu and Tharcisse Mukama at the Ntarama and Nyamata memorial sites in this 2004 article. They both give detailed accounts of their survival in the massacres. They both speak of having their hearts let go of the past, but they still cannot forget what happened to them. The article provides an interesting account of survivors’ attitudes to memorial sites.


“Nyarubuye Memorial to Cost Rwf3 Billion.” AllAfrica.com. Washington, April 28, 2012.



This April 2012 AllAfrica.com article announces Rwanda's plan to construct a “modern” memorial site at Nyarubuye. The article quotes a CNLG official who announces that they have only identified 28,000 of the 51,000 bodies for proper burial at Nyarubuye. He complains about the lack of help from the community in identification. The article also explains that the new memorial structures will preserve the remains for over 1000 years. The article provides a glimpse to the expensive challenges and long-term goals of the CNLG's official mission towards preserving these sites.


Rice, Susan E. “Statement by Ambassador Susan E. Rice: 15th Commemoration of the

              Genocide in Rwanda.” Speech, Kigali, Rwanda, April 7, 2009. Outreach 

              Programme on the Rwandan Genocide and the United Nations.



US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice commemorated the 15th anniversary of the genocide by giving a speech in front of the KGM memorial. Rice spoke of her experience walking through memorial sites and how the experience emphasizes the need to prevent future conflict. Rice is generally considered a Kagame apologist, and is well known for pushing against a U.S. intervention during the genocide.


“Rwandans And The Need To Preserve The Bones of the Dead.” African Times. Los

Angeles, United States, August 15, 2004.


This 2004 African Times article briefly sketches the country's debate over preserving remains at massacre sites. The article reports that the Government and family members of victims believe that burying bones might remove proof of the genocide and minimize the memory of the massacres. They advocate preservation as both a provider of evidence and as an expression of memory. Opponents include genocide perpetrators who worry that continued preservation could create further ethnic tensions for future generations. Other Rwandan consultants believe that these sites could eventually lead to international disapproval. The article also includes a short description of the Nyamata rape victim’s tomb in 2004. While not overly detailed, the article does show public debate on the memorials around the year 2004.


“Rwanda. Hotel Rwanda hero accused of funding terror,” The Ottawa Citizen, October 29,

              2010, sec. News, http://search.proquest.com/docview/761260400.


In October 2010, the Rwandan government accused Paul Rusesabagina of funding the FDLR from his home in Belgian. Rusesabagina dismissed the allegation as simply part of a ridiculous smear campaign.

We Cannot Forget: Interviews with Survivors of the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda. Genocide,

Political Violence, Human Rights Series. Edited by Samuel Totten and Rafiki Ubaldo. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press, 2011.


Totten and Ubaldo conducted interviews with survivors during the summer of 2006 in the midst of the Gacaca process. Originally researching Gacaca, Totten and Ubaldo decided to expand their research and focus on their subjects’ personal backgrounds. We Cannot Forget is the end result to their expanded research that lasted until 2009. They focused on Tutsi interviewees, and the book reveals the discrimination facing Tutsi before and the challenges in re-adapting to society post-1994. Themes of loneliness and fears of additional reprisal violence appear heavily in the interviews.


We Survived Genocide in Rwanda, edited by Wendy Whitworth. (Nottinghamshire: Quill

Press, 2006).


This Aegis Trust-released volume of testimonials includes an introduction from museum founder James Smith. Smith’s introduction mirrors the museum’s representation of Rwandan history. The testimonies in the book come from several tour guides and memorial directors’ who survived the genocide. The testimonies provide a diverse array of stories from different regions of the country. Many of the testimonies conclude by emphasizing the need for unity and reconciliation. Others provide a more skeptical perspective, pointing out how hard it is to forgive.




Barnett, Michael. Eyewitness to a Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda. Cornell Univ

Pr, 2003.


Michael Barnett, International Relations Professor at the University of Minnesota, writes of the bureaucratic failure of the UN during the Rwandan genocide. A member of the US mission to the United Nations during the genocide, Barnett writes of how the Security Council refused to label the conflict a genocide in order to avoid legal ramifications. But he also argues that the UN was not necessarily heartless or amoral. Rather, the limitation upon the UN from the leading world power made non-intervention feel like a moral option to many UN officials. Barnett does not excuse this weakness, rather he contextualizes it as originating in bureaucracy that allowed its members to slip through the cracks.


Buckley-Zistel, Susanne. “Remembering to Forget: Chosen Amnesia as a Strategy for Local

Coexistence in Post-Genocide Rwanda.” Africa 76, no. 02 (2006): 131–150.


As a result of the vastly different narratives experienced between Hutu and Tutsi between 1990-1994, research fellow Susanne Buckley-Zistel of the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt argues that many Rwandans utilize chosen amnesia in order to co-exist locally. She conducted fieldwork in areas near memorial sites such as Nyamata district and Gikongoro. She argues for three reasons to this chosen amnesia: government coercion, fear of other group, and pragmatism. Overall, she argues that there has been an internalization of prejudice akin to decades of resentment internalized before 1994. She argues that Rwandans resume their daily life only through a chosen amnesia, or in other words remembering of what to forget. She argues that Rwandans don't necessarily deny what happened, but to internalize the division as a coping mechanism. This chosen amnesia risks covering up tensions and becomes vulnerable to manipulation by future dictatorships. She argues that most reconciliation studies focus too much on a macro perspective and not on a local perspective. This study emphasizes a bottom approach as Buckley-Zistel concludes by arguing that the micro level should influence all nation wide justice and reconciliation models.


Caplan, Pat. “‘Never again’: Genocide Memorials in Rwanda.”

Anthropology Today 23, no. 1 (February 6, 2007): 20–22.


Pat Caplan of Goldsmiths College writes a brief article and analysis of his trip to the Kigali Memorial Centre and the Ntamara and Nyamata memorials. The article provides a good bibliographical summary of key studies in dead body and memorial secondary literature. The article mentions the political significance of the bodies and that many scholars argue that the RPF is using the bodies to create a singular narrative. The article concludes that there is no right way for memorializing the Rwandan genocide, as visitors will read the memorials from different perspectives. While the bibliography is useful, Caplan does not provide much of an argument.


        Cieplak, Piotr A. “Image and Memory.” French Cultural Studies 20, no. 2 (2009).


Cieplak interviews 100 Days producer Eric Kabera as part of his critique on the effect of image on memory. Kabera argues that “image is memory,” arguing that the image of places like Nyamata transports trauma to the viewer. He also speaks of the ways in which image forces the viewer to acknowledge memory, a philosophy that can be seen at Rwandan genocide memorials.


Chrétien, Jean-Pierre. The Great Lakes of Africa: Two Thousand Years of History. New

York: Cambridge, Mass: Zone Books; Distributed by MIT Press, 2003.


East African scholar Jean-Pierre Chrétien of the University of Paris traces two thousand years of East African history in this 2003 study. In doing so, Chrétien contextualizes the recent violence in the region with centuries worth of anthropological, archaeological, historical, linguistic, and political data. His book succeeds in contextualizing the history of the East African civilization that European explorers of the Nile River “discovered” in the mid-nineteenth century. He shows how both the racial influence brought upon by Europeans and the pre-colonial legacy influenced the political violence of the present day. René Lemarchand has critiqued his works on the Burundian genocide for its overuse of the double genocide perspective.


Cook, Susan E. “The politics of preservation in Rwanda.” In Genocide in Cambodia and

Rwanda: New Perspectives. New Brunswick, N.J: Transaction Publishers, 2006, 281-299.


Susan Cook of the University of Pretoria conducted field interviews with officials and visited memorials in 2000. The Rwandan government was still in the planning stages for memorialization and commemoration. She observed three strategies at genocide sites: the preservation of human and structural remains, memorialization and commemoration of victims, and documentation and research of events. She describes her experience visiting Murambi in detail. She differentiates between preservation and restoration. She argues that the decisions made on these two concepts will construct a frozen moment of historical time at the site. The article seems a bit biased to the RPF. She buys their vision on long-term education and forging international partnerships in remembrance. But she acknowledges her research as incomplete as it came out in the beginning of the memorialization phase in 2000. She acknowledges that the meaning at these sites change over time.

Des Forges, Alison Liebhafsky. Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda. Human

Rights Watch, 1999.


Alison Des Forges writes a comprehensive account of the genocide compiled from Human Rights Watch reports. Des Forges’ narrative depicts how the génocidaires planned, organized, and perpetrated the massacre of Tutsi. Her account provides a detailed narrative of the organized massacres of entire prefectures such as Gikongoro and Butare. She also devotes an entire chapter that supplies evidence that the RPF performed unprosecuted massacres and human rights violations before, during, and after the genocide.


Fujii, Lee Ann. Killing Neighbors: Webs of Violence in Rwanda. Ithaca: Cornell University

Press, 2009.


Le Ann Fujii of the University of Toronto Mississauga argues against the dominant view that long simmering ethnic hatreds caused people to commit genocidal acts. She devotes an entire chapter that reviews the literature illustrating that ethnicity not as important as regional and political relationships in Rwandan history. Ethnicity is part of a constantly developing elitist ideology. Through field research, she argues that local ties and group dynamics determined whether or not people joined or abstained from the killings. Her argument adds to the literature by illustrating how the "local" contributes to larger processes like genocide. She aims to discard the tendency to group collective groups (i.e. the Hutu) as “the masses.” She presents a radical argument that ethnic hatred a consequence as opposed to the cause of genocide. She acknowledges the pitfall of conducting research in a politically repressive environment, but she also presents a case for the authenticity of her interviews.


Guyer, Sara. “Rwanda’s Bones.” Boundary 2 36, no. 2 (June 20, 2009): 155–175.


Sara Guyer, associate Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, attempts to analyze the structure of Rwandan genocide memorials. Specifically she asks simply whether or not they memorialize the genocide. Several Rwandan genocide memorials display the bones of victims in crypts open to the public. She argues that this structure attempts to create a ‘witnessing’ experience of genocide atrocities. She looks at the accounts of journalists Andrew Blum and Phillip Gourevitch at the Nyamata, Nyarabuye, and Murambi memorials. She emphasizes that anonymity of these bodies makes the official remembrance narrative a representation of a population as opposed to individuals. She (and long list of scholars) argues that this makes the bodies political objects that justify the unquestioned power of the RPF. But she argues that displaying the bones alone does differentiate between genocide and mass murder. In addition, she argues that the anonymity of the victims fits the genocide’s ideology of dehumanization. Overall, she articulates that the mere inclusion of bones and the overwhelming ‘sensory’ experience does not lead to a greater understanding of genocide.

         Hintjens, Helen M. “Explaining the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda.” The Journal of Modern

African Studies 37, no. 2 (June 1, 1999): 241–286.


Helen Hintjens, faculty member of the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), traces the ways in which racial mythologies, colonial legacies, and threats to power created the context in which the genocide occurred. She argues that genocide is similar to Nazi Holocaust, a point that has been refuted by the scholarly community as two separate historical contexts and processes. Such scholars as Johan Pottier have heavily critiqued Hintjens’ writings, arguing that she follows the RPF official line. While Hintjens does center the narrative on the colonial inheritance, her perspective is much more complex than Pottier gives credit. Hintjens grew up in Rwanda, and her perspective provides a detailed account to the multitude of reasons why the genocide occurred.


Ibreck, Rachel. “A Time of Mourning: The Politics of Commemorating the Tutsi Genocide

in Rwanda.” In Public Memory, Public Media, and the Politics of Justice, edited by Philip Lee and Pradip Ninan Thomas, 98-120. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.


An expert on Rwandan commemoration, Rachel Ibreck argues that while the Rwandan government uses genocide memory through commemoration to create a conception of politics, commemoration actually opens up the political space. Ibreck analyzes important components to commemoration such as ritual, official discourse, survivor trauma, and participation. Her methods include participant observation at commemorations at Murambi and interviews with Rwandans. She provides a slightly different interpretation than Lemarchand and Vidal, who argue that the RPF holds monopoly over public discourse. While Ibreck doesn’t deny the RPF’s grip on civil society and the state, Ibreck argues that commemoration of the genocide actually creates a social moment that breaks the RPF’s illusion of stability.


Jacobs, Janet. “Sacred Space and Collective Memory: Memorializing Genocide at Sites of

Terror.” Sociology of Religion 72, no. 2 (Summer 2011): 154–165.


Janet Jacobs, Professor at the University of Colorado, analyzes the politicization of memorials and the "social construction of memory" at Ravensbruck, Ntarama, and Nyamata. She touches on arguments over the presence of religion at sites of terror, traditional belief systems, preservation of artifacts, and the national politicization of sites. She argues that these sites combine the feelings of the sacred and the profane to create a sacred sense of human despair. Her argument ends by stating that by remembering the visitor recognizes the power of life amongst the tragedy of human suffering. While I agree with her reading of the memorials, I question whether recognizing one’s individual life should be what the visitor feels at these sites. She clearly states that what is being interpreted as sacred is human despair. But I think her ending conclusion could be expanded into an analysis on the issues that these redemptive conclusions create in relation to genocide memory.


———. “Women, Genocide and Memory: The Ethics of Feminist

                    Ethnography in Holocaust Research.” Gender and Society 18, no. 2 (April 2004):



Janet Jacobs, Professor at the University of Colorado, critiques her methodology performed during research on a feminist ethnography of gender and Holocaust memory. She acknowledges the ways in which ‘double vision’ created ethical concerns. Her role as observer doubled as perpetrator. The heart of her article rests on her conscious emphasis on a feminist lens to her research. She expressed concerns of portraying the same voyeuristic tendencies relating to gender as the Nazis. She also explains that her approach created ethical concerns by diminishing the suffering of men and children. She concludes by questioning the possibility of actually conducting a feminist ethnography. She acknowledges the concerns with “representing the victimization of women through the lens of sociocultural objectification.”


King, Elisabeth. “Memory Controversies in Post-Genocide Rwanda: Implications for

Peacebuilding.” Genocide Studies and Prevention 5, no. 3 (2010): 293–309.


Elisabeth King of Columbia University argues that the Rwandan government only emphasizes memories of violence that coincide with their official narrative. She compares testimony completed in 2006 with the public memory presented at the Gisozi genocide memorial. The memory presented at Gisozi divides society into a Tutsi as victim and Hutu as perpetrator binary. Tutsi and Hutu memory that does not coincide with the RPF’s narrative are left out. This includes Hutu victims of RPF crimes, Tutsi who feared the RPF, Tutsi who resent the success of Tutsi returnees, and mixed Rwandans. King argues that this narrowing of the narrative impedes reconciliation and justice. The article demonstrates the ways in which an exhibition like Gisozi mirrors the official political narrative.


Kroslak, Daniela. The French Betrayal of Rwanda. Bloomington, Ind: Indiana University

Press, 2008.


Daniela Kroslak, Africa Research Director of the International Crisis Group, analyzes French complicity in the 1994 genocide. She asks the question as to what extent can external countries like France be held responsible for the genocide. Her book provides evidence that France took an active role in the civil war, gave resources and training to the génocidaires, knew about the genocide, and did not respond in an ethical manner. She concludes that the French should collectively be held responsible, and argues for an international re-evaluation of international policy. She expands her argument in this manner by criticizing America and Britain for complicity of RPF war crimes in the Congo.

Lemarchand, René. Burundi 1972: Genocide Denied, Revised, and Remembered.” In

Forgotten Genocides: Oblivion, Denial, and Memory. Edited by René Lemarchand. Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011.


René Lemarchand, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida, writes of the ways in which the 1972 Burundi genocide has been ignored and discounted in studies of eastern Africa. He succeeds in summarizing the factors that sparked the genocide, and looks at how the Tutsi-dominated government framed the conflict as an exclusively Hutu-perpetrated atrocity.  He argues that the 100,000 to 300,000 Hutu who disappeared in 1972 have been effectively written out of history by the Burundi regime. As a result to this suppressed memory, a lot of recent Hutu extremist groups have politicized that memory in their ideology. He illustrates how the suppression of memory contributes to the cycle of violence in Burundi.


———. The Dynamics of Violence in Central Africa. National and Ethnic

Conflict in the 21st Century. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009.


René Lemarchand analyzes the cycles of violence pervading Burundian, Congolese, and Rwandan societies in his comparative study. His essays on Burundi and Rwanda look at their relationship as “genocidal twins,” specifically in comparative memories of the 1972 Burundian genocide and the 1994 Rwandan genocide. For Burundi and Rwanda, he also looks at the role of politicized forgetting and the shaping of official history. His chapter on Rwandan political memory argues that the RPF-led government “thwarts” the memory of Hutu victimization, a claim that made him persona non grata to Rwanda. Overall, this work from Lemarchand is one of the best recent accounts on contemporary East African political conflict.


———. “Genocide in the Great Lakes: Which Genocide? Whose Genocide?” African

Studies Review 41, no. 1 (April 1, 1998): 3–16.


René Lemarchand provokes debate over the framing of the genocide as primarily a conflict against Tutsi. He argues that understanding 1994 and the Hutu refugee killings in the Congo by the RPF cannot be done without looking at the regional memory of Burundi 1972 and Burundi 1993. The 1993 conflict in Burundi is framed primarily as genocide against the Tutsi, when in reality it was as much against the Hutu. There has been re-writing of history in Burundi to portray as Ndadaye as planning a genocide against the Tutsi, thereby warranting his assassination. In Rwanda, Hutu extremists are pushing a double genocide interpretation and that the source comes from the RPF invasion. He argues that in the end there cannot be a good guy bad guy interpretation of the conflict by the international community. The RPF frames the killings as only Interahamwe and FAR combatants, thus rationalizing the revenge killings. Lemarchand calls this the same mindset as holding all Tutsi collectively responsible for human rights violations in Burundi. He calls for a South African style truth and reconciliation commission to get the truth out of what happened and to avoid the creation official mythologies into the collective memory of Hutu and Tutsi.


Longman, Timothy and Théoneste Rutagengwa. “Memory and violence in post-genocide

Rwanda.” In States of Violence: Politics, Youth, and Memory in Contemporary Africa, edited by Edna G. Bay and Donald L. Donham. (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2006), 236-261.


Noted Rwandan scholars Timothy Longman and Théoneste Rutagengwa argue that the RPF framed its interpretation of Rwandan history to correlate with its political goals. They conducted fieldwork in three Rwandan communities to look at how Rwandan react to the government narrative. In their bid for legitimacy, they interpret pre-colonial Rwanda as a unified nation-state. This history places all the blame for divisionism on the colonial legacy. The article argues that this demonstrates an attempt by the RPF to re-shape the Rwandan collective memory formed under the former regime. The RPF used such tools of memory as commemoration, memorialization, education, justice, national symbols, and public addresses to create a new, unified national identity. Longman and Rutagengwa point out that this official narrative competes with the RPF's own violent history and post-genocide political oppression meant to establish political authority. There are no commemorations of victims of RPF massacres. In their bid to change the collective memory of Rwanda, Longman and Rutagengwa argue that many Rwandans express much cynicism to the contradictions between the official narrative and the government’s bid to leave out certain parts.


———. “Religion, Memory, and Violence in Rwanda.” In Religion, Violence, Memory, and

Place, edited by Oren Baruch Stier and J. Shawn Landres, 132-149. Bloomington:

Indiana University Press, 2006.


Rwandan specialists Timothy Longman and Théoneste Rutagengwa examine the role of the church in Rwandan genocide memorialization in this 2006 scholarly article. The church committed widespread atrocities against Tutsi both historically and physically inside during the genocide. As a result, Longman and Rutagengwa argue that the church exists in between the preservation of memory and the sacred space. They argue that memorials contain political meanings, but they also symbolize a grappling with the meaning behind the sacred in Rwandan society. They