Annotated Bibliography: Rwandan Genocide: Annotated Bibliography

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¶ … Rwandan genocide: An annotated bibliography

Anderson, G. (2009). Roots of genocide. America, 16-19.

This article is a profile of Francis Deng, a man who has traveled all over the world on behalf of the UN to study the legacy of genocide in various countries. Deng specializes in dealing with IDP (internally displaced persons) who have been uprooted because of internal conflicts within a particular nation but who are not classified as refugees. Deng's own roots are in the Sudan, a nation which has seen its share of ethnic conflicts and genocide. According to Deng, genocide is an extreme response to a people's conflict about their collective identity. It involves clashes based upon race, ethnicity, religion, and nationality whereby one group seeks to define itself by excluding and then hurting another group (Anderson 2009: 16).

In support of this notion, Deng notes that despite each group's perception of itself and the other group as being very distinct, from an outsider's perspective it is often very difficult to tell the two warring groups apart. The Bosnians and the Serbians looked very much the same from Deng's outsider perspective; Arabs can be darker-skinned than Africans yet race still remains a volatile issue in many countries. The greater the anxiety about identity, the greater the hatred. Deng calls the genocide within the Sudan a 'culture-cide' as well as a genocide because of the determination of the aggressor to Islamize the entire population and eradicate all non-Muslim religious and cultural elements from the nation (Anderson 2009: 18).

Deng notes that genocide is a universal phenomenon and believes it is essential for responders to treat it as such. It is not enough to punish the aggressor: we must ask ourselves why the genocide happened and how we can prevent it from occurring again. He also notes common themes in the way that the 'other' group is perceived -- like animals, rather than human beings. Encouraging people to see the enemy as human rather than objectifying the enemy is a critical component of creating a more peaceful world.

Bhavnani, R. & Backer, D. (2000). Localized ethnic conflict and genocide: Accounting for differences in Rwanda and Burundi. The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 44, 3: 283-306 Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/174628

Why do certain nations which experience unrest devolve into genocide and other nations do not? Are there substantial differences between nations who do undergo such an unraveling? This is the question Bhavnani & Backer (2000) attempt to answer in their article. Although ethnic violence, ethnic cleansing and genocide are unfortunately endemic to all societies on some level, there is vast variation in the scale depending on the cultural and social concepts held by the warring factions. Rwanda and Burundi are specifically used as case studies of different extremities of violence. The critical variables identified by the authors that affect magnitude are "levels of interethnic trust, genocidal norms, and noise in the transmission of messages" (Bhavnani & Backer 2000). The authors provide an overview of various previous models of ethnic cooperation and conflict in their analysis, all of which tended to stress that cooperation rather than conflict between groups was the norm (an idea the authors disagree with).

Both Rwanda and Burundi defy such predictions, particularly since before the conflict each society was quite heterogeneous in nature and the eventually-warring groups knew one another quite well. According to the authors familiarity can actually create the seeds of violence, combined with a catalytic incident and group policing amongst the aggressor group so there are high penalties for noncompliance. Thus, contrary to previous expectations, group knowledge was not found to impede violence. In fact the characteristic 'trust' between the Rwandan Hutus and Tutsis actually facilitated acts of genocide, given that the Tutsi assumed they would not be at risk, given the level of trust they had in local Hutu leaders who had previously been friendly. Socially demanded violence for membership in the in-group trumped any preexisting intergroup trust than existed in Rwanda. Finally, 'noise' or miscommunication between groups further exacerbated tensions. All of these factors were present in Rwanda but not in Burundi, despite similarities between the two contexts in terms of political instability.

Cohen. H. (2012). Rwanda: 50 years of ethnic conflict on steroids. American Foreign Policy

Interests, 34:86 -- 92

The Rwandan genocide of 1994 was so horrific, even the American public which has traditionally not shown much interest in African affairs was horrified by the carnage. Cohen (2012) suggests that the roots of the conflict lie squarely in the nation's history of colonialism, whereby the traditionally 'symbiotic' relationship between the Hutu and Tutsi were disturbed. The Germans and then the Belgians privileged the Tutsi in employment and education, citing this group's supposedly more "advanced intelligence" over the Hutu (Cohen 2012: 87). When the Hutu assumed power and drove out their colonizers, they naturally associated the Hutu with colonial oppression.

The U.S. did little to intervene in the conflict in Rwanda, given at the time of the Cold War, human rights was given little priority in foreign policy. While there was always a difference between the hunting Hutu and the pastoral Tutsi in terms of their lifestyles, only after the West imposed their norms and created a hierarchy of civilization in their perceptions of these two groups did conflict result (Cohen 2012: 87). Thus, in Cohen's view, the West bears a direct responsibility for the subsequent genocide -- a responsibility it ultimately abdicated. Skirmishes between the rival ethnic groups still continue, indicating that the situation may not improve in a permanent fashion and the current presiding government is merely providing a 'band aid' solution which is not wholly satisfactory. Additionally, Cohen notes that minority rule in general is inherently unstable: any government which gets its legitimacy from its ethnic heritage is almost invariably likely to generate anger in some quarters and thus the prospect of future genocide has not been entirely extinguished. Cohen notes the lack of a meaningful political opposition in present-day Rwanda, combined with many highly-publicized suspicious deaths of dissenters.

Reyntjens, F. (2004). Rwanda, ten years on: From genocide to dictatorship. African Affairs, 103,

177 -- 210. DOI: 10.1093/afraf/adh045

The end of the Rwandan genocide is often considered a great international success story. However, according to Reyntjens (2004), the newfound stability in Rwanda has come at a great cost, and has resulted in the creation of an autocratic, anti-democratic system of government. Although the new government has created a stable bureaucratic structure, it has also allowed the wealth of the poor country to be concentrated into a relatively slim minority, outlawed dissent and the free press, and continued to engage in human rights violations. Moreover, ethnic discrimination has not ended. The implication of the article is that the seeds of discrimination are still germinating beneath the surface of Rwandan society. The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) has not honored the spirit of the original agreement which ended the war, which demanded equal power-sharing between all factions. When an oppressive regime is in place, tensions can easily erupt again into warfare and a resurfacing of old ethnic tensions.

The RPF has been much-criticized by outside humanitarian groups for its governance of the electoral process and its absolute intolerance of minority dissent. Despite the fact that the majority and minority ethnicities of Rwanda were supposed to engage in power-sharing as a result of the agreement, the RPF embarked upon a process which it called 'Tutsi-zation' (i.e., restoring the Tutsi to their dominant place within Rwanda). The RPF is a heavily militarized state and a majority of the revenue of the nation is spent upon shoring up military control. Rather than creating stability, the military is used to enforce consent to the rule of the RPF regime. Most of the meaningful opposition of the RPF is confined to exiles. This creates… [END OF PREVIEW]

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