Making memory: transforming politics after genocide

Rachel Ibreck

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Commemorations of the 1994 genocide are promoted by the Government of Rwanda as part of wider initiatives to address the legacies of genocide and transform national identity. This paper examines the contribution of the government to memorialisation and explores its aims. It argues that in contrast with its declared intentions, the government sets strict limits on public remembrance in Rwanda and uses commemoration as a political platform to constitute its legitimacy. However, it finds that the memorialisation was not conceived as a political instrument. Tracing the history of the memorialisation process, it shows that the demand for remembrance came from outside the government; and that genocide survivors and international agencies continue to contribute in important ways. There are debates between the government and its partners on difficult issues and there are differences of opinion within the regime, not least because some of its members have personal as well as political reasons to remember. In consequence, the paper suggests that the memorialisation may not serve as a means for the government to impose its narrative of the past and that assessments of its political possibilities should remain open.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009
EventAnnual Convention of the International Studies Association - New York
Duration: 15 Feb 200918 Feb 2009


ConferenceAnnual Convention of the International Studies Association
CityNew York


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