Body Politics and the Rwandan Crisis


Baines, Erin K. 2003. “Body Politics and the Rwandan Crisis.” Third World Quarterly 24 (3): 479–93.

Author: Erin K Baines


Since the Rwandan genocide of 1994, scholars and policy think tanks have produced an impressive number of macro-level studies and theories to explain the seemingly inexplicable: how and why did this happen? Yet these studies, most often based on ethnic and/or global level analyses, tend to simplify complex social relations at the local level which likewise contributed to the genocide. This article examines 'micro-level' testimonial evidence collected in human rights reports to shed light on one particularly under-theorised realm and approach, that of gender and the politics of the body. I suggest that the 1994 genocide was an extreme attempt not only to purge the 'Hutu nation' of the Tutsi, but also to actively engender a vision of the 'Hutu nation' in the minds of an otherwise diverse and fragmented local populace. Women's bodies, gender and sexuality became highly contested terrains for scripting this vision of an imagined nation.

Keywords: Rwanda, genocide, gender

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Genocide, Sexuality Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2003

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