Resistant Acts in Post-Genocide Rwanda

Ananda Breed


Performances of justice and human rights have served as international platforms for truth-telling and nation-building both in the aftermath of apartheid in South Africa, and genocide in the case of Rwanda. There are moments of overlap between actual court proceedings, which can in their own right be deemed as a performance, and the use of theatre for dialogic negotiations between past atrocities and present juridical systems for reconstruction.1 Within the messy context of post-conflict reconstruction, speech often falters. Articulations of identities and speech acts become disjointed between personal and collective memories and identities; but are forced into the construction of juridical speech in the case of Rwanda’s gacaca courts. This essay will analyze how micro and macro sociopolitical dynamics are articulated in the gacaca courts used to adjudicate crimes linked to the 1994 genocide against Tutsi during which over 1 million Tutsi and Hutu moderates were massacred. I will illustrate how these different levels of power interact with each other through social performances (Alexander, 2011) and to extend the concept of faltered speech as artistic resistance (Scott, 1990).


genocide; performativity; performance; gacaca; ingando; justice; reconciliation; resistance; human rights

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