When multicultural societies begin dividing into factions based on ethnic identities, assigning blame to the “other” and emphasizing the differences among us rather than the similarities, the stage is set for political violence… or worse.
Dr. Jennie Burnet researches the causes and consequences of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, two ethnic groups, the Hutus and Tutsis, lived side-by-side as neighbors and friends, until policies implemented under European colonization redefined the ethnic identities and shifted the power dynamics between them. After independence, the legacy of those changes created bitter divides that widened under political leadership.
Dr. Burnet is a Professor of Global Studies and Anthropology at Georgia State University, and the Associate Director of the Global Studies Institute. In her research she examines the causes of the genocide, how people pieced the country together afterwards, and what lessons can be learned about the role political leadership plays in preventing, or triggering, violence.
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For more information on Dr. Burnet:
Dr. Burnet’s professional webpage, with links to her research and publications: www.jennieburnet.org
More information on the material discussed in this episode:
Article by Dr. Burnet entitled “The Slippery Slope Toward Genocide”
Article by Dr. Burnet entitled “In a Genocide, Who are the Morally Upright?”
Dr. Burnet’s book based on her research in post-genocide Rwanda: Genocide Lives in Us: Women, Memory, and Silence in Rwanda (Women in Africa and the Diaspora)
Article featuring Dr. Burnet’s research on women’s experiences during and after the Rwandan genocide: “Breaking the Silence: Rwandan Women Survivors Give Testimony and Find a Voice”
Organizations and other resources about Rwanda and genocide:
Genocide Archive of Rwanda: http://genocidearchiverwanda.org.rw/index.php/Category:Testimoniescarie
Night by Elie Wiesel