Killing neighbors : social dimensions of genocide in Rwanda / by Lee Ann Fujii
Includes bibliographical references (p. 219-227)
- External Link
Electronic version from ProQuest
What turns neighbors into génocidaires? The study examines this question in the context of the Rwandan genocide. In the spring of 1994, thousands of ordinary Hutu peasants helped to slaughter over half a million people, mostly Tutsi, in less than one hundred days. The study's findings, based on multiple, intensive interviews conducted in two rural communities and prisons, challenge scholarship that points to ethnic hatreds or ethnic fears as driving popular participation in mass violence. The study argues instead that ethnicity operated as a dramatic blueprint or script for violence. What mediated between the script for genocide and people's actual performances were local ties and powerful group dynamics. Local ties shaped patterns of recruitment and participation. Local powerholders and their collaborators targeted family members first, recruiting them into the killing groups or denouncing them for personal gain. Ties of friendship, meanwhile, led the lowest-level participants, a group I call "Joiners," to protect their Tutsi friends at times, even as they continued to participate in the murder of other Tutsi. By contrast, ties between Joiners helped to initiate these actors into genocide through group activities that became progressively more violent. Joiners continued their participation over time because killing in groups conferred powerful group identity on these actors. In groups, Joiners engaged not only in the physical murder of victims, but also a host of accompanying acts, such as chanting political party slogans, digging holes, standing watch, and watching others kill. Engaging in these acts constituted the group as a social actor with its own identity; once constituted, the group re-enacted the practices consistent with its identity. To adapt Charles Tilly's argument with respect to European state formation---that wars make states and states make war---this study argues that killing produced groups and groups produced killings.
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