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A typology of theoretical approaches to the study of Rwandan Tutsi genocide

A typology of theoretical approaches to the study of Rwandan Tutsi genocide PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to provide a typological framework of approaches to the study of the Rwandan Tutsi genocide, in a comparative perspective. Based on the assertion that no single theoretical approach can account for so complex and totalizing a phenomenon, the paper targets different aspects of causality, drawing from three key publications by contemporary genocide scholars: Vern N. Redekop, Christopher Taylor and Mahmood Mamdani. It argues for their significant complementary contribution to a better understanding of the last genocide of the twentieth century. By offering different analytical angles, as demonstrated from each perspective, the paper enriches the conceptualisation of genocides in general, and the Rwandan Tutsi genocide in particular.Design/methodology/approachThis paper focuses on the Rwandan Tutsi genocide. Drawing from three key contemporary authors, it identifies and analyses three theoretical approaches in a comparative perspective, namely, the human identity needs approach (Redekop, 2002), the politico-anthropological approach (Taylor, 2000) and the colonialist approach (Mamdani, 2002) which, if unified, would go a long way in providing a clearer picture and a better understanding of Rwandan Tutsi genocide.Of course this does not mean that the three approaches account for every aspect of the phenomenon under study. It is a work in progress, reflecting the complex nature of genocide and the concomitant need to approach its analysis from different angles and perspectives. The selected authors address different key areas of scientific enquiry from different perspectives that complement each other, leading to a better understanding of the reality under investigation.FindingsThe authors learn from these approaches the constructed nature of ethnicity, what Benedict Anderson (1983, p. 211) calls the “imagined communities”. The Rwandese community was imagined by the colonial power, codifying the distinctions on the basis of such ridiculous criteria as cattle ownership and physical measurements, and issuing identity cards accordingly. In the final analysis, the choice of the most appropriate approaches to the study of genocide is a function of multiple factors: cultural, historical, political, anthropological, psychological, ethnographical, each genocide case being contextually different. The combination of the three approaches above seems to go a long way in confronting the complexity of the Rwandan Tutsi genocide.Research limitations/implicationsAs the authors have already mentioned, the theoretical approaches are not exhaustive. Yet, they have significant implications in terms of research processes.Practical implicationsPractically, these approaches lead to a deeper and broader understanding of genocide causality.Social implicationsBy tackling research issues from multiple angles, the product captures more elements that enable the shift from the structures of violence towards the structures of blessing.Originality/valueIt is the first time that such a research tool is made available to researchers wishing to deepen the understanding of the Rwandan Tutsi genocide. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research Emerald Publishing

A typology of theoretical approaches to the study of Rwandan Tutsi genocide

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1759-6599
DOI
10.1108/JACPR-12-2015-0204
Publisher site
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Abstract

PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to provide a typological framework of approaches to the study of the Rwandan Tutsi genocide, in a comparative perspective. Based on the assertion that no single theoretical approach can account for so complex and totalizing a phenomenon, the paper targets different aspects of causality, drawing from three key publications by contemporary genocide scholars: Vern N. Redekop, Christopher Taylor and Mahmood Mamdani. It argues for their significant complementary contribution to a better understanding of the last genocide of the twentieth century. By offering different analytical angles, as demonstrated from each perspective, the paper enriches the conceptualisation of genocides in general, and the Rwandan Tutsi genocide in particular.Design/methodology/approachThis paper focuses on the Rwandan Tutsi genocide. Drawing from three key contemporary authors, it identifies and analyses three theoretical approaches in a comparative perspective, namely, the human identity needs approach (Redekop, 2002), the politico-anthropological approach (Taylor, 2000) and the colonialist approach (Mamdani, 2002) which, if unified, would go a long way in providing a clearer picture and a better understanding of Rwandan Tutsi genocide.Of course this does not mean that the three approaches account for every aspect of the phenomenon under study. It is a work in progress, reflecting the complex nature of genocide and the concomitant need to approach its analysis from different angles and perspectives. The selected authors address different key areas of scientific enquiry from different perspectives that complement each other, leading to a better understanding of the reality under investigation.FindingsThe authors learn from these approaches the constructed nature of ethnicity, what Benedict Anderson (1983, p. 211) calls the “imagined communities”. The Rwandese community was imagined by the colonial power, codifying the distinctions on the basis of such ridiculous criteria as cattle ownership and physical measurements, and issuing identity cards accordingly. In the final analysis, the choice of the most appropriate approaches to the study of genocide is a function of multiple factors: cultural, historical, political, anthropological, psychological, ethnographical, each genocide case being contextually different. The combination of the three approaches above seems to go a long way in confronting the complexity of the Rwandan Tutsi genocide.Research limitations/implicationsAs the authors have already mentioned, the theoretical approaches are not exhaustive. Yet, they have significant implications in terms of research processes.Practical implicationsPractically, these approaches lead to a deeper and broader understanding of genocide causality.Social implicationsBy tackling research issues from multiple angles, the product captures more elements that enable the shift from the structures of violence towards the structures of blessing.Originality/valueIt is the first time that such a research tool is made available to researchers wishing to deepen the understanding of the Rwandan Tutsi genocide.

Journal

Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace ResearchEmerald Publishing

Published: Oct 10, 2016

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