Anna HedlundNov 10, 2021
Exile Warriors in the Eastern Congo
University of Pennsylvania Press 2019
In 1994, almost one million ethnic Tutsis were killed in the genocide in Rwanda. In the aftermath of the genocide, some of the top-echelon Hutu officers who had organized it fled Rwanda to the eastern Congo (DRC) and set up a new base for military operation, with the goal of retaking power in Kigali, Rwanda. More than twenty years later, these rebel forces comprise a diverse group of refugees, rebel fighters, and civilian dependents who operate from mountain areas in the Congo forests and have a long and complex history of war and violence. Having conducted ethnographic fieldwork in a rebel camp located deep in the Congo forest, Anna Hedlund explores the micropolitics and practices of everyday life among a community of Hutu rebel fighters and their families, living under the harshest of conditions. She describes the Hutu fighters not only as a military unit with a vision of return to Rwanda but also as a community engaged in the present Congo conflicts. Hutu Rebels: Exile Warriors in the Eastern Congo (U Pennsylvania Press, 2019) argues that we need to move beyond compiling catalogs of atrocities and start examining the "ordinary life" of combatants if we want to understand the ways in which violence is expressed in the context of a most brutal conflict. In this episode I explore these elements of Hedlund's book and more.
Christopher P. Davey is the Charles E. Scheidt Visiting Assistant Professor of Genocide Studies and Prevention at the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University.