Under the shadow of genocide: Rwandans, ethnicity and refugee status

Jaji, Rose
External Publications (2017)

in: Ethnicities, 17 (1), 47-65

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1468796815603754
Open access

This article discusses ethnicity and refugee status among Rwandan refugees self-settled in Nairobi, Kenya. It addresses conflation of Hutu fugitives who participated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide and refugees, and critiques perception of Hutu and Tutsi as mutually exclusive ethnicities with no points of intersection. Framed within the social constructivist approach to identity, the article problematizes ethnic essentialism and wholesale criminalization and stigmatization of Rwandan refugees and, in particular, Hutu ethnicity in ways that silence individual viewpoints emanating from personal experience. Conversely, the article highlights how Rwandan refugees deflect collective guilt and legitimize their refugee status under the shadow of the genocide which was committed by extremist Hutu on Tutsi and moderate Hutu. The refugees’ reaction to association with the genocide confounds theoretically irreconcilable extremes through self-representations centred on experiences that muddle the simplistic perpetrator – victim and guilty – innocent binary. The refugees’ narratives portray victimhood in Rwanda as complex, cyclical and heterogeneous

About the author

Jaji, Rose



Further experts

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