The Role of Memory in Post-Genocide Rwanda
Conway-Gaffney, Katherine E.
- Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Since the end of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide the Rwandan government and institutions within civil society have promulgated an official narrative of the events. This version of the narrative or "official memory" has tailored public remembrance and discourse, limiting the de... read morebate about the past. In present day Rwanda, controls exists that curtail open public remembrance, education, and conversations. The role of memory thus becomes a primary consideration in government, civil society, and in the social fabric of the Rwandan people. The government and social institutions control much of the collective memory, limiting discussions of ethnicity and events that took place outside of the specific time frame considered in the official memory. Limits to memory include restrictions on the freedom of speech, a focus on minimizing ethnic identity, methods of memorialization, and control over the versions of memory that are taught in schools, celebrated during the month of April, and discussed in public spaces. This thesis will assess the role of memory in guiding the current narrative of Rwandan society, institutions, and reconciliation ultimately addressing the friction caused in collective remembrance, identity, and social fabric. Subsequently, this thesis will address potential processes of engaging with memory in the present about the past that could include wider truth-telling and grappling with the historical record in order to shift a population towards deeper understanding, and potentially reconciliation, in both private and public spaces.read less