Archive: ‘Transitional Justice’



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

Wednesday, 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).

 

 

Call for papers: IAGS Panel on “Genocidal Symbolic Violence”

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

IAGS

Call for Papers: Panel on “Genocidal Symbolic Violence”

For submission to the IAGS Biennial Meeting, ‘Justice and the Prevention of Genocide’, 9 – 13 July 2017, Brisbane, Australia

Organizers: Dr Erin Jessee (Scottish Oral History Centre, University of Strathclyde) and Dr. Annie Pohlman (The University of Queensland)

Since the 1990s, a growing range of scholarship within comparative genocide studies has analysed the role and function of various forms of excessive and often spectacular torture, mutilation and execution that have been observed during genocides around the world. Some of the earliest studies examined acts of ‘excessive’ violence (Feldman 1991; Malkki 1995; Sutton 1995; Taylor 1999; Boose, 2002) to consider how and why such acts were perceived to be necessary during genocide. These early studies gave rise to analyses of the culturally-specific ‘vivisectionist’ logic that is actively communicated through the extreme forms of violence inflicted upon the bodies of perceived enemies (Appadurai 1998), prompting scholars such as Jacques Semelin (2007) to question whether understanding the symbolic meaning inherent in ‘orgiastic violence’ is potentially ‘the key’ to understanding genocide and related mass atrocities in different settings. (more…)

New policy brief: The Right to Know – Policy Recommendations for Addressing the Rights of the Missing and their Families in Northern Uganda

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

JRP-Policy-Brief-The-Right-to-Know-Picture-620x205

Since 2012, I have been collaborating on a part-time basis with the Uganda-based Justice and Reconciliation Project (JRP) on their Right to Know campaign. JRP initiated this campaign to draw attention to the plight faced by many survivors of the recent twenty-year civil war in northern Uganda: namely, the absence of reliable information about the missing – often presumed dead – victims of the war, and its negative impact surviving communities in the years since the formal cessation of hostilities. (more…)

New Web Publication: Among the Anonymous Dead

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 14.23.06Following a successful panel on “Among the Anonymous Dead: Exhumations and the Emotive Materiality of Deceased Victims of Mass Violence” that I organized for the 2014 American Anthropological Association annual meeting, the discussant, Sarah Wagner, and I were invited to write a reflective piece for the new Emergent Conversations series overseen by the Political and Legal Anthropology Review. In this piece, we highlight the growing interest that surrounds anonymous victims of mass atrocities in various locations around the world, and how dead bodies are often capable of affecting, both positively and negatively, efforts aimed at promoting social repair in transitional communities. We then briefly discuss the papers presented by the panel’s contributors, including John Harries, Jackie Leach-Scully, Dawnie Steadman, and myself, with particular emphasis placed on the themes of “emotive materiality” – how the physical and imagined presence of bones and other remains evokes emotional responses in those who come in contact with them – and “temporalities” – how the passage of time influences people’s reactions to the anonymous dead. A key outcome of the panel was the shared realization that the symbolic capital attributed to human remains in the aftermath of mass atrocities can be contested throughout a society. Assigning meaning to the anonymous dead is a process that is not solely state-driven, nor is it inherently consistent across time and space.

New Book Review: Susan Thomson’s “Whispering Truth to Power”

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Adobe Photoshop PDFThe fall 2014 issue of the African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review has just been released, and includes my review of Susan Thomson’s Whispering Truth to Power: Everyday Resistance to Reconciliation in Post-Genocide Rwanda. In brief, Thomson has written a rich, ethnographically informed book that offers valuable insights on how the current government’s program of national unity and reconciliation impacts the everyday lives of its rural citizens, with particular attention paid to the subtle but meaningful acts of resistance engaged in by rural Rwandans. As such, she complicates the claims of both the Rwandan government and the international community that the Rwandan government’s program of national unity and reconciliation is affecting positive change in Rwanda, and provides a relevant foundation for further studies of grassroots resistance in other conflict and post-conflict settings. Similarly, it represents a powerful indictment of those regional and international experts who would dismiss the Rwandan government’s poor human rights record in the region given the nation’s remarkable economic progress. (more…)

 

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