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REMEMBERING RWANDA: THE COMMEMORATION OF THE 1994 GENOCIDE IN RWANDA’S NATIONAL MUSEUMS AND MEMORIALS
After the genocide of 1994, the RPF-led Rwandan government invested heavily in the development of reconciliation programs, ranging from the installation of genocide memorials, to the announcement of a ‘memory day’, to the political decision to abolish ethnicity. This paper argues that ‘culture’ (as problematic a term as it is), was given a pivotal role in this reconciliation process.
Constant emphasis is put on the fact that ‘culturally’ the country was united before the genocide and that the divisions that caused the conflict were rather political categories put into place by the colonial powers. In post-genocidal Rwanda, there is now a sense of having to return to this common cultural background, a project that is strongly promoted by the country’s national museums and memorials. However, the validity of these claims for a pre-colonial Rwandan utopia is questionable and current tensions in the memorialisation of the genocide seem to negate this reconciliatory narrative.
This paper will focus on the role of ‘culture’ in the commemoration of the Rwandan genocide and will argue that the collective ‘Rwandan’ identity that is being advocated today is as political as the ‘ethnic’ identities during colonial times.
Date: 18 April
Time: 17: 15
Venue: Room 130, Wits School of Arts