Everyday ethnicities: Identity and reconciliation among Rwandan youth

McLean Hilker, Lyndsay (2009) Everyday ethnicities: Identity and reconciliation among Rwandan youth. Journal of Genocide Research, 11 (1). pp. 81-100. ISSN 1462-3528

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Drawing on ethnographic research with young Rwandans in Kigali, this paper explores the role of the "ethnic" categories "Hutu," "Tutsi" and "Twa" in their everyday relations and relationships. Through exploring their narratives, practices and social interactions, the paper demonstrates thatdespite current state policies that seek to de-emphasize "ethnic" identitiesethnicity remains salient in contemporary Rwanda. Although many young Rwandans continue to forge inter-ethnic ties, there is a persistent desire to know the ethnic identity of significant others and to categorize them on an ongoing basis. Exploring the complexities, contradictions and uncertainties of these processes of categorization, this paper investigates the relationship between "conceptual" categories and "concrete" persons in contemporary Rwanda. As such, it raises fundamental questions about what young Rwandans understand "Hutu," "Tutsi" and "Twa" to mean and the role of "ethnic" categories, stereotypes and anomalies in structuring their social worlds. The evidence presented suggests that current approaches to reconciliation do not sufficiently address the "ethnic" logic that persists in Rwanda and may instead be entrenching it, increasing the risk that any recurrence of violence would once again have "ethnic" targets and be as extensive and brutal as in 1994.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Special Issue: Identity, Justice and “Reconciliation” in Contemporary Rwanda
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Depositing User: Lyndsay McLeanHilker
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:09
Last Modified: 28 May 2012 12:54
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/10562
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