CTS Archived Event-Gender & Identity: The Rwanda Genocide

CTS Seminar by: Professor John Stanlake, Access Academy AUW

John Stanlake

Topic: Gender & Identity: The Rwanda Genocide

Presentation Schedule: 

Day: 1 November, Wednesday

Time: 12.30-1.30pm

Venue: H402, AUW


Summary: In 1994 the small, East African state of Rwanda was torn apart by a devastating genocide that led to the mass execution of an estimated 750,000 people. As the killing ensued, the world turned a blind eye and the UN pulled their forces from the country. Researchers have explored the factors that made it possible for this to take place in front of the eyes of an increasingly global mass media. However, in the research of the study of this genocide, gender has been a vastly overlooked factor. The importance of the gender influence in understanding the widespread violence that engulfed Rwanda has frequently been ignored due to a greater focus upon aspects such as nationalism, ethnicity and historical violence related to economics and wealth. This presentation will consider the relationship between gender and power in Rwanda, with particular focus upon the significance of this in the lead up to, and during the devastating genocide of 1994. It will examine the importance of power relations between men and women in Rwandan society both prior to, and during the genocide. The impact of colonial rule upon gender identities in the country will be discussed with a focus upon how the ‘politics of beauty’ led to tragic consequences for Tutsi women. Consideration will also be placed upon patriarchy in Rwandan society and principally its reassertion during the genocide. Finally, through an analysis of sexual violence during the genocide, this presentation will aim at arriving at a greater understanding of gender based violence in situations of war.

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