• Mostar bridge, Sarajevo
  • Victims of genocide, Nyamata memorial, Rwanda
  • Parade of coffins, Srebrenica, Bosnia
  • Mountain gorilla twins, Rwanda
  • Mosque, Sarajevo, Bosnia
  • Altar, Nyamata memorial, Rwanda
  • Remembering the dead, Srebrenica, Bosnia
  • Rural life, Rwanda
  • Victims of genocide, Srebrenica, Bosnia
  • Prisoners at work, Rwanda
  • Pigeon square, Sarajevo, Bosnia
  • VIctims of genocide, Ntarama, Rwanda

New book review: André Guichaoua’s From War to Genocide: Criminal Politics in Rwanda, 1990-1994

October 12th, 2017

Genocide Studies and Prevention has just published my latest review of André Guichaoua’s From War to Genocide: Criminal Politics in Rwanda, 1990-1994. Translated from the original French by Don Webster, From War to Genocide is an excellent addition to the English-language literature on Rwanda. Guichaoua draws upon an impressive range of evidence collected by the Office of the Prosecution for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) as part of its efforts to hold accountable those individuals with primary criminal responsibility for the 1994 genocide. As the former lead expert witness for the prosecution at the ICTR, Guichaoua had unprecedented access to these materials, which he then supplemented with his own interviews and related fieldwork among Rwandans who were not complicit in the genocide but had been close to Presidents Juvénal Habyarimana (r. 1973-1994) and Théodore Sindikubwabo (r. AprilJuly 1994), the interim President who ruled briefly following Habyarimana’s assassination. The outcome is a comprehensive overview of the civil war and genocide in Rwanda and one that speaks to several key debates among experts on the conflict: most notably, the question of which parties to the conflict were most likely responsible for Habyarimana’s assassination. Another potential point of controversy in Guichaoua’s book is his discussion of whether the genocide was the inevitable outcome of a long-term plan on the part of the Habyarimana regime, or the result of a last ditch effort on the part of the interim government to eliminate all Tutsi civilians in order to undermine the predominantly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front’s likely support base, in the increasingly likely event that they won the civil war and became the new ruling party of Rwanda.

Taken together, From War to Genocide offers a thorough overview of the rapidly shifting political climate in Rwanda during the civil war and genocide grounded almost entirely in primary sources (many of which are available online at the book’s website) and Guichaoua’s extensive knowledge of Rwandan politics.

New Chapter on Reconciliation for Andrea Pető’s new Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbook on Gender: War

September 20th, 2017

Professor Andrea Pető‘s highly anticipated Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbook on Gender: War has just been published. It includes an impressive array of chapters on such topics as men and women as combatants (by Björn Krondorfer and Edward Westermann, and Senem Kaptan, respectively), genocide (by Elisa von Joeden-Forgey), resistance movements (by Weronika Grzebalska), pacifism (by Ingrid Sharp), transitional justice (by Fionnuala Ní Aoláin), and post-conflict reconstruction (by Birgitte Refslund Sørensen), all approached through a gender lens. Read the rest of this entry »

New Publication: Managing danger in oral historical fieldwork

September 1st, 2017

The latest issue of Oral History Review has just been published, and it includes my new article on ‘Managing Danger in Oral Historical Fieldwork.’ This article has been on my to-write list for some time now, and is informed by the fieldwork that I’ve done since 2007 in conflict-affected settings, such as post-genocide Rwanda and Bosnia, where state-level actors often regard the study of history as politically provocative. I evaluate an interdisciplinary body of literature on anticipating and managing danger in qualitative fieldwork with the specific needs of oral historians in mind. However, while the article speaks to the best practices that oral historians can apply and adapt when working in overtly dangerous settings or on potentially provocative subject matter, it’s also intended to benefit oral historians who work on low-risk projects, but nonetheless find themselves unwittingly caught up in interpersonal conflict, political upheaval, or even mass violence. Read the rest of this entry »

New position: Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Research Fellow in History at the University of Glasgow

May 20th, 2017

I’m excited to announce that this July, I’ll be moving to a new position in History at the University of Glasgow. I’ve accepted a three-year contract as a Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Research Fellow, and will be launching a new research program on Armed Conflict and Trauma. I’ll be continuing my work on Rwanda, but in addition will be focusing on a new research project: “Toward an Oral History of Mass Atrocities: Beyond Trauma and Healing in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Canada.” I’ll continue to work closely with the Scottish Oral History Centre as a Research Associate, and will also be developing new international research networks and collaborations. My email address after 1 July 2017 will be erin.jessee@glasgow.ac.uk.

New Book Review: Mobilizing Transnational Gender Politics in Post-Genocide Rwanda by Rirhandu Mageza-Barthel

April 12th, 2017

The Journal of Modern African Studies has just published my latest book review on Rirhandu Mageza-Barthel’s Mobilizing Transational Gender Politics in Post-Genocide Rwanda. This book is essential reading for those individuals who are interested in gender equality practices and policies in Rwanda. It offers a nuanced middle-ground between popular media accounts that celebrate the nation for its impressive inclusion of women in politics–most notably, the fact that 64% of seats in Rwanda’s parliament are curently held by women making it a world leader on women’s representation in domestic politics–and academic accounts that warn that while Rwandan women elites are making notable progress, rural Rwandan women still face significant challenges in their everyday lives. Mageza-Barthel does this by bringing interviews with women political activists who were intimately involved in high-level negotiations with the international community and the Rwandan government into conversation with important shifts in international and domestic policies aimed at promoting gender equality. In the process, her analysis tells us much, not only about how integral these political actors were for influencing Rwanda’s current gender equality policies, but also how they were able to impact present-day norms supported by the United Nations and other international institutions, successfully challenging ‘women’s invisibility in theories of how politics is done’ (p.17).




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