course
RI-SP013 | Spring | 6 ECTS

Civil War and Genocide In Rwanda

This course undertakes a semester long inquiry into the civil war and subsequent genocide in Rwanda (1994) through reading, film, and discussion. The course is structured around a core set of questions: (1) What do we mean by 'ethnicity'? How are ethnic identities constructed and why are they resilient? What role do ethnic 'markers' play in motivating other-directed behavior, and how does this role shift from periods of peace to violence? (2) How does one account for different degrees of individual dissension and group cohesion in the transition from conflict to violence? For localized versus widespread violence? For mass participation in genocidal violence? (3) How do particular episodes and enduring histories of violence affect relations among groups and normalize violence in social discourse? How is violence internalized by participants and non-participants alike? And how does violence spread, both nationally and across borders? (4) In what ways has interethnic violence altered gender relations in Rwanda? (5) How does one go about documenting violence? Is it possible to address the tension between scholarly acts of understanding and actual events? How do observers and fact-finders address issues of uncertainty? Objectivity? (6) Does a feasible set of preventive solutions to mass violence exist? What are the obstacles to its implementation? To begin addressing these questions, as well as others that arise over the course of the semester, we sample from an eclectic set of readings on ethnic violence, civil war, and genocide, as well as a selection of films both documentary and commercial. In-depth analysis of the violence in Rwanda will be used to expose students to the complexity of conflict in the developing world, with concepts like 'ethnicity, 'conflict' and 'violence' deconstructed to illustrate the multiplicity of interpretations and explanations for this devastating episode. Students will undertake a research project related to the core questions listed above, and present their findings in a symposium at the semester's end.