Genocide Novels and Genocide Memories: Ethnic Portrayal and Stereotypes in Rwandan Post-Genocide Novels

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In the last 20 years, the 1994 genocide in Rwanda has inspired a number of novels representing the genocide itself, its aftermath and, in some cases, the situation that is perceived as paving the way for it decades before it occurred. Unlike other parts of Africa where novels already have a deeply rooted tradition, the ‘genocide novels’ inaugurated the novel culture in Rwanda. This paper explores six ‘genocide novels’, among which four were authored by Tutsi novelists and two by their Hutu counterparts. Those novels are considered from a memory studies perspective, rather than from a literary perspective. In other words, they constitute memory texts that represent a certain past by placing it in a fictive world. The focus of the paper is on two aspects: ethnic portrayal and stereotypes. The analysis of those two aspects shows that in most novels both character/actor portrayal and stereotyping follow ethnic lines. On the one hand, Hutu characters/actors receive a description relating to agricultural work or with a pejorative connotation, while Tutsi counterparts’ description has more positive connotations that reflect innocence, courage, and the like. On the other hand, Tutsi characters/actors are stereotyped as handsome/beautiful and intelligent, while Hutu characters/actors are given opposite traits. This paper argues that once in public memory, these constant portrayals and stereotypes will only complicate the already problematic relationship between the Hutu and the Tutsi. Keywords: Rwandan genocide, genocide novels, ethnic portrayal, ethnic stereotypes
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2014
EventACJC – Rwanda Revisited – Aftermath Conference - Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 22 Aug 2014 → …


ConferenceACJC – Rwanda Revisited – Aftermath Conference
CityMonash University, Melbourne, Australia
Period22/08/14 → …

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