The order of genocide : race, power, and war in Rwanda / by Scott Alexander Straus
Includes bibliographical references (p. 404-427)
- External Link
Electronic version from ProQuest
In 1994, national hardliners from Rwanda's military and ruling party organized the rapid, systematic destruction of the country's minority Tutsi population. In 100 days, the violence the hardliners unleashed claimed at least half a million civilian lives, including 75% of all resident Tutsis, in this small nation of about seven million people. Although much has been written about the Rwandan case, most scholarship focuses on the history of ethnicity and on the highest officials who ordered the killing. However, there remains a significant gap in evidence and in understanding about the genocide's micro-dynamics: about how the violence spread at the local level and about what led individuals to take part in the killing. As a result, many hypotheses about the genocide's causes and about civilian participation in the genocide are based on narrow evidence and are speculative.“The Order of Genocide: Race, Power, and War in Rwanda” seeks to remedy the gap in evidence and to evaluate competing macro and micro theories of genocide. The thesis combines existing secondary sources and original field research, including extensive interviews with convicted genocide perpetrators and a micro-comparative study of genocidal dynamics in five Rwandan locations. The thesis in turn uses quantitative and qualitative methods to examine patterns of violence at four levels—at the national, regional, local, and individual levels—and triangulates the results.Overall, the dissertation's findings cast doubt on some conventional explanations of genocide in Rwanda. The thesis finds that a racial categorization of Rwanda's social groups was a necessary condition for genocide. However, the evidence indicates that interethnic hatred, prejudice, and commitments to ethnic nationalism were not widespread and were not the main mechanisms independently causing genocide. Rather, the evidence consistently points to two simultaneous dynamics that drove both the violence and the salience of racial categories. The first dynamic concerned acute insecurity and instability, which stemmed primarily from civil war and a presidential assassination but also from intra-ethnic contests for power in a period of renewed multi-party politics. Of these factors, the thesis finds that war in particular was a necessary condition for genocide. The second dynamic concerned the exercise of authoritative power, which stemmed primarily from the nature of Rwandan state institutions but also from the country's demographic density. The hardliners who launched the genocide had the often coercive capacity to enforce their position nationwide. In short, it was an interaction between race thinking, the exercise of power, and war that drove the violence in Rwanda and that made genocide the order of the day in 1994.
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