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Title: Moral Citizenship. An ethnographic exploration of the category of victimhood in post-genocide Rwanda
Authors: Guglielmo, Federica
Advisors: Argenti, N
Niehaus, I
Keywords: Social drama;Performance of morality;Relational identities;Identity boundaries
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Brunel University London.
Abstract: In order to foster social reconciliation in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, the Rwandan government has implemented a judiciary system and established a national commemoration period. More importantly, in order to eradicate the ideological foundation of the genocide, the government has outlawed ethnicity as a cornerstone of genocidal propaganda. Ethnography shows that these efforts have been only partially successful and that ethnicity occupies a central, silent space at the centre of Rwandan national politics and social interaction. In this work, I shed light over the entanglement between the memory of the genocide and social identities in Rwanda. I explore the ways in which ordinary Rwandans re-situate their ethnic background through moral categories that surface from the government’s historical narrative of the genocide and of the events that led to it. I analyse the means through which this narrative is established, the judicial enforcement and the memorialisation of the genocide, to illustrate the patterns of blame and legitimacy that saturate these historical constructions. Within these contexts, I explore the ways in which individuals exercise tactical agency in order to re-place their ethnic past in relation to these narratives. Drawing on in-depth ethnographic fieldwork, I argue that the government’s narrative of the genocide constitutes a moral landscape in relation to which actors acquire — or are denied — instances of victimhood. Negotiation over these instances take the form of accusatory practices which, more or less explicitly, are used in everyday life to define selfhood and otherness with respect to the genocide. My research shows how, cutting across former ethnic boundaries, the category of victimhood represents a form of empowerment, which dialectically depends on the identification of perpetratorship.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London.
Appears in Collections:Anthropology
Dept of Social Sciences Media and Communications Theses

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