Seminar series to mark 20th anniversary of Rwandan genocide

Posted by er134 at Jan 20, 2014 10:17 AM |
University of Leicester seminar series starting Wednesday 29 January to reflect on the ‘tragedy that nobody believed’

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 20 January 2014

April 2014 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide when, in just one hundred days, around 800,000 people were murdered.

To commemorate the anniversary, the Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the School of Modern Languages at the University of Leicester will be organising a free public interdisciplinary outreach seminar series, involving academics, media representatives and policy makers, to explore the lessons and legacies of Rwanda. The series will be coordinated by Dr Caroline Sharples, lecturer in Modern European History, and Dr Fransiska Louwagie, lecturer in French Studies.

The first seminar of the series, entitled ‘The Rwanda genocide: a tragedy foretold that nobody believed’, is to feature Belgian journalist Colette Braeckman and will take place at the University of Leicester on Wednesday 29 January at 6:00pm in the Ken Edwards Lecture Theatre 2. Further seminars will take place throughout the first half of 2014, concluding in May.

Themes and questions of the series include:

·    The causes of the Rwandan genocide including the role of the media, perpetrator mentality and the legacy of European imperialism.

·    International responses to the Rwandan conflict including the behaviour of the UN, the problems of defining and documenting genocide, and the possibility of genocide prevention.

·    An analysis of survivor, perpetrator and bystander testimonies.

·    An analysis of photographic images of genocide and its aftermath.

·    Post-conflict reconciliation; forms of justice and commemorative rituals.

·    Lessons for the present and the future.

Dr Louwagie said: “The conflict in Rwanda raised key questions about the role of the international community, particularly the UN, in preventing mass killings, and has since had a significant impact on the development of both international justice and cultural representations of genocide.

“2014 offers a most timely opportunity to reflect on some of these developments and to organise a public debate about the perception and prevention of genocides and international action against mass violence, including in current contexts.”

Dr Sharples added: “Twenty years on, it is important that we continue to remember the victims of the genocide, consider the needs of survivors and reflect critically on whether the international community has learned from the lessons of Rwanda. The seminar series will look at the genocide from different angles, bringing together journalists, specialists on women rights, international justice and more, for discussions with a broad audience.”

The seminar series reflects the extension of the Stanley Burton Centre’s research and outreach activities in the field of Genocide Studies beyond the Holocaust and is closely associated with the School of Modern Languages research clusters in Francophone and postcolonial studies. The series is supported by the College of Arts, Humanities and Law Research Development Fund and the opening lecture is organised with the support of Wallonia-Brussels International (Embassy of Belgium in London).

The full list of seminars can be found below:

1. 'The Rwandan Genocide: A Tragedy Foretold That Nobody Believed'

Colette Braeckman (Belgian journalist, author and expert on Central Africa)

Date and time: Wednesday 29 January 2014, 18.00

Location: Ken Edwards Building, Lecture Theatre 2 (KE LT2)

This opening lecture is kindly supported by Wallonia-Brussels International – Embassy of Belgium in London.


2. 'Anti-social Capital: An Investigation into Who Killed and Who Did Not in Rwanda's Genocide'

Dr. Omar McDoom (London School of Economics & Political Science)

Date and time: Tuesday 11 February 2014, 19.00

Location: Ken Edwards Building, Lecture Theatre 3 (KE LT3)


3. 'Photographing Rwanda: Agency and Identity in Images of Genocide and its Aftermath'

Dr. Zoe Norridge (King's College, London)

Date and time: Wednesday 5 March 2014, 18.00

Location: Ken Edwards Building, Lecture Theatre 1 (KE LT1)


4. 'Rwanda's Mass Justice after Genocide'

Dr. Lars Waldorf (University of York)

Date and time: Wednesday 19 March 2014, 18.00

Location: Ken Edwards Building, Lecture Theatre 2 (KE LT2)


5. ‘"They Don’t Say What They Mean or Mean What They Say": Witness Testimony and "Culture" at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda'

Dr. Nigel Eltringham (University of Sussex)

Date and time: Wednesday 7 May 2014, 18.00

Location: Ken Edwards Building, Lecture Theatre 2 (KE LT2)


6. 'Can Living through Genocide Lead to Positive Change?: Rwandan Women’s Stories of Strength, Recovery and Post-traumatic Growth'

Caroline Williamson (University of Nottingham)

Date and time: Wednesday 28 May 2014, 18.00

Location: Ken Edwards Building, Lecture Theatre 2 (KE LT2)


Notes to Editors:

For more information, please contact Dr Caroline Sharples at or Dr Fransiska Louwagie at

The Burton Centre is a non-profit teaching and research centre within the School of History at the University of Leicester and it is the oldest Holocaust research centre in the UK. It was founded in 1990, and re-founded under its present name in 1993 under the auspices of the Burton Trusts. The name was extended to 'Genocide Studies' in 2011.

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