Restoring human dignity: the work of survivors in the memorialisation of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda


Ibreck, R., 2008. Restoring human dignity: the work of survivors in the memorialisation of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. In: ASAUK Biennial Conference 2008: The Presence of the Past? Africa in the 21st Century, 2008-09-11 - 2008-09-13.

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The memory of the 1994 genocide marks Rwanda’s politics, its social relations and its landscape, yet it has so far received remarkably little critical attention. This paper uncovers the politics of the genocide memorialisation, examining its meaning in the present and implications for the future. The few existing studies of commemoration in Rwanda suggest that it is employed by the government to construct political legitimacy or to promote national unity—these studies tend to be loosely informed by an established conception of memorials as instruments of the state. In contrast, this paper draws on a rich literature on the politics of memory, and argues that while public remembrance is often harnessed to nationalist agendas; it is ordinarily a site of contestation over the meaning of the past and a practice of mourning, with a unique role in expressing and affirming our moral responsibility to others. Because the sources of public remembrances are diverse, we need to look at particular examples in depth and context, identifying the agencies involved; exploring their aims and attitudes and detailing the symbols and rituals they produce. This paper focuses on the role of genocide survivors in the construction of public memory, highlighting their dedication and influence. It reveals that their demands for accountability and for the restoration of the human dignity of the victims of genocide are a vital dimension of the politics of memorialisation in Rwanda.


Item Type Conference or Workshop Items (Paper)
CreatorsIbreck, R.
DepartmentsFaculty of Humanities & Social Sciences > Social & Policy Sciences
ID Code22265


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