When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda

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Princeton University Press, 2001 - History - 364 pages
12 Reviews

"When we captured Kigali, we thought we would face criminals in the state; instead, we faced a criminal population." So a political commissar in the Rwanda Patriotic Front reflected after the 1994 massacre of as many as one million Tutsis in Rwanda. Underlying his statement is the realization that, though ordered by a minority of state functionaries, the slaughter was performed by hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens, including even judges, human rights activists, and doctors, nurses, priests, friends, and spouses of the victims. Indeed, it is its very popularity that makes the Rwandan genocide so unthinkable. This book makes it thinkable.

Rejecting easy explanations of the genocide as a mysterious evil force that was bizarrely unleashed, one of Africa's best-known intellectuals situates the tragedy in its proper context. He coaxes to the surface the historical, geographical, and political forces that made it possible for so many Hutu to turn so brutally on their neighbors. He finds answers in the nature of political identities generated during colonialism, in the failures of the nationalist revolution to transcend these identities, and in regional demographic and political currents that reach well beyond Rwanda. In so doing, Mahmood Mamdani usefully broadens understandings of citizenship and political identity in postcolonial Africa.

There have been few attempts to explain the Rwandan horror, and none has succeeded so well as this one. Mamdani's analysis provides a solid foundation for future studies of the massacre. Even more important, his answers point a way out of crisis: a direction for reforming political identity in central Africa and preventing future tragedies.

  

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Review: When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda

User Review  - Lauren Dodaro - Goodreads

Understanding the facts surrounding this absolute atrocity does not make comprehending it any less difficult, but it is important for any hope at "never again". Read full review

Review: When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda

User Review  - Bennett Harrell - Goodreads

Very informative look at the buildup to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The author gives incite to what was happening in the surrounding areas leading up to the 1990 RPF invasion and the after effects of ... Read full review

Contents

List of Abbreviations
ix
Preface and Acknowledgments
xi
Thinking about Genocide
3
Defining the Crisis of Postcolonial Citizenship Settler and Native as Political Identities
19
The Origins of Hutu and Tutsi
41
The Racialization of the HutuTutsi Difference under Colonialism
76
The Social Revolution of 1959
103
The Second Republic Redefining Tutsi from Race to Ethnicity
132
The Politics of Indigeneity in Uganda Background to the RPF Invasion
159
The Civil War and the Genocide
185
Tutsi Power in Rwanda and the Citizenship Crisis in Eastern Congo
234
Political Reform after Genocide
264
Notes
283
Bibliography
343
Index
357
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Mahmood Mamdani is Director of Makerere Institute of Social Research at Makerere University and Herbert Lehman Professor of Government at Columbia University

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