Revisiting the Social History of Ethnic Violence in Rwanda

Marginalized Voices and the Constellation of Genocide Narratives

In this lecture, Prof. Doná revisited the social history of ethnic violence in Rwanda by focusing on marginalized voices. She introduced the constellation of genocide narratives to conceptualize the relationship between public and personal narratives of violence and its legacy and to identify connections among varied stories. This chronicle from below challenges a social history of almost totalizing violence to speak of continuity, embeddedness and the everyday. In doing so, it problematizes the narrative of ruptures between the “old” (pre-genocide) and “new” (post-genocide) reality; challenges the overlap of ethnic and social identities; and records the complex legacy of ethnic violence, as an event and as narrative, on the social and narrative lives of the nation and its people.

Giorgia Donà is co-director of the Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging at the University of East London. She has published extensively in the areas of ethnic and political violence, refugee movements, child protection, psycho-social interventions, and participatory research methods. Recent publications include The Marginalised in Genocide Narratives (2019, reprinted in 2020), Forced Migration: Current Issues and Debates (ed. 2019, with Alice Bloch) and Child and Youth Migration: Mobility-in-Migration in an Era of Globalisation (ed. 2014, with Angela Veale).

Comments by Erin Jessee, Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Glasgow. She uses oral historical and ethnographic methods in her research to engage with people’s diverse experiences of genocide and related mass atrocities, especially Rwanda, where she has spent over a decade working closely with Rwandans from different sides of the conflict, and from varied socio-economic, regional, religious, and political backgrounds. She is the author of Negotiating Genocide in Rwanda: The Politics of History (2017), co-editor of Researching Perpetrators of Genocide (2020), and has published peer-reviewed articles with Medical History, Memory Studies, Conflict and Society, Oral History Review, and History in Africa, among others.

IWM Permanent Fellow Ayşe Çağlar moderated the evening.