Genocide in Rwanda and the Reconstruction of knowledge

From July 23rd to 25th 2008
In Kigali, Rwanda.

A word from the organizer

This conference is organized by the Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Center ( The length of conference papers will be 30 minutes per individual paper. Papers can be delivered either in French or English. A 300 word abstract should be sent by February 25, 2008 via email to Acceptance will be confirmed no later than March 15, 2008.

Jean-Pierre Karegeye

University of California at Berkeley
Director, Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Center/Kigali-Rwanda


Genocide in Rwanda and the Reconstruction of knowledge

Paint from Sonia Fournier

Artwork from Sonia Fournier

In addition to the destruction of human lives, genocide confronts the researcher with an extraordinary challenge: all systems that facilitate research have been suspended, or worse, destroyed. In the case of Rwanda, the challenge is hightened by the fact that the project of extermination has its roots in centuries of ethnological travel accounts that transformed Hutu, Tutsi and Twa into objects of scientific research and discovery. Hence this «discourse of knowledge» past or present, conditions and determines "the crime," justifies it and distances itself from any ethical consideration.

Writing genocide can only begin with a gap, a fissure forcing one to take an epistemological turn in order to evaluate the theoretical perspectives of disciplines. Attempting to render genocide exposes the fragility of any approach that aims to circumscribe an object of study. As a result, methods in humanities, social sciences, and the quest for meaning around genocide necessarily imply a reconstruction or a relocation of all prior fields of knowledge.

Notions of «before», «during», and «after», should not disrupt the Rwandan survivor's narratives of "living with" genocide. Contemporary art has become the first place of inscription for the «living with» narratives. Many painters, poets, playwrights, novelists, educators, musicians, journalists, legal practitioners, anthropologists, political scientists, philosophers, or theologians have expressed difficulties in conceptualizing genocide and have pointed out their limitations in attempting to render the experience of the survivors. Perhaps Rwanda constructs new horizons of knowledge that would serve as an unprecedented model for the global community.

Papers may approach the conference theme from a number of angles and disciplinary frames, ranging from comparative genocide studies to philosophical and theological investigations to literary and visual representation to issues of justice, democracy, ethics, international relations, and methodology.

Conference organized in partnership with:
  • Ibuka (Rwanda)
  • California Institute of the Arts (USA)
  • School of International Studies at the University of Pacific Stockton (USA)
  • Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights at The State University of New Jersey (USA)
  • Université du Québec à Rimouski (Canada)
  • Université de Bretagne Occidentale (France)
  • Groupov (Belgium)
CalArts Groupov Université de Bretagne occidentale University of the pacific
Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights at The State University of New Jersey (USA) Université du Québec à Rimouski