Lars Waldorf, Lee Ann Fujii, and Scott Straus

Roundtable: What Do We Now Know About the Rwandan Genocide Twenty Years On?

2014

New Books in African StudiesNew Books in Genocide StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network September 13, 2014 Kelly McFall

In 1994 I was in graduate school, trying hard to juggle teaching, getting started on my dissertation and having something of a real life....

In 1994 I was in graduate school, trying hard to juggle teaching, getting started on my dissertation and having something of a real life.

The real life part suffered most of all.  But every once in a while, the world around me would startle me out of my cave and remind me that life was proceeding without me.

The genocide in Rwanda was one of these events. Along with the ongoing ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, it made me question whether academics was a meaningful career choice and what I could and should do right then, in the midst of massive violence against innocents.

And then, by the time I had actually started thinking hard about it, the genocide in Rwanda was over.  As most people now know, something like 800,000 people were killed in about a hundred days.

July was the 20th anniversary of the end of the genocide.  To mark that occasion, we’re going to depart from the usual format of the show.  Instead of interviewing an author about his or her book, we’re going to spend an hour or so thinking more broadly about events in Rwanda and how we now understand them.  Three experts on the Rwandan genocide will help us do so:  Lee Ann Fujii, Scott Straus and Lars Waldorf.  During the discussion we’ll move from the motivations of the killers to the ways in which the genocide has been remembered (or not) to what movies and books they would recommend for people who want to learn more.

The podcast is, however, to some degree inspired by a single book, Alison des Forges remarkable Leave None to Tell the Story, published in 1999.  The book is a tour de force of careful research and analysis and set the direction for research on Rwanda.  Nevertheless, it is fifteen years old.  Since then, we’ve had hundreds of studies examining the genocide and its aftermath.

So today w’re going to spend a few minutes assessing that new research, using the broad question of “What do we know about Rwanda 20 years after the genocide?”  I hope you enjoy the discussion.

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