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University of Notre Dame

Publication Date

Spring 2018

Program Name

Rwanda: Post-Genocide Restoration and Peacebuilding

Abstract

During the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, over one million Tutsis were killed by the government of Rwanda and Hutu extremists. In this study, I address two questions: (1) did the Church, as an institution, offer a convincing counter-narrative to the dominant ideology of racialized ethnic identities of twentieth century European colonialism in the present-day nation-state of Rwanda? If it did not, why not? And, (2) what role, if any, did the Church, as an institution, play, in promoting a “social imagination” that valued religious identity, or truths, over the dominant European colonial ideology, and later the nationalistic narrative of the post-independent nation-state of Rwanda, that fostered genocide ideology?

In spring 2018, I conducted six participant interviews about the missiological practices of the Church prior to and during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Based on these accounts and other archival written resources, I constructed a general account of the pre-genocidal identity narrative present in the Church prior to and during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

I conclude that the Church, as an institution, could have done much more to offer a convincing counter-narrative to the dominant ideology of racialized ethnic identities of twentieth century European colonialism in the present-day nation-state of Rwanda. Moreover, the Church, as an institution, did very little to promote a “social imagination” that valued religious identity, or truths, over the dominant European colonial ideology, and later the nationalistic narrative of the post-independent nation-state of Rwanda. This study offers evidence that supports previous research that the Church, as an institution, was complicit in fostering genocide ideology insofar as it promoted and failed to counter the situational narrative of colonial and post-independent Rwandan Christian identity.

Disciplines

African Languages and Societies | African Studies | Catholic Studies | Ethics in Religion | Missions and World Christianity | Politics and Social Change | Race and Ethnicity | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Sociology of Religion

 

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