Grass-roots Paths in the Land of One Thousand Hills: What Rwandans are Doing to Take Peacebuilding and Genocide Prevention into Their Own Hands and Its Impact on Concepts of Self and Other




Mandel, Beth Robin

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This thesis calls for the study of traditional peacebuilding in present day Rwanda. In particular, it addresses an existing need for further research on the impact of grass-roots initiatives spearheaded by citizens that are not the design of governments, NGOs, or religious groups. What little research has been done on traditional peacebuilding today takes these entities as the orchestrator and narrator of peaceful ideals, such as unity, forgiveness, and reconciliation. The focus is often on portraying these entities in either a favorable or critical manner, with discussion largely revolving around them and the identities they attempt to construct. Such research absolutely has its merits, however, there is also an equally strong need to place the person and society (not only government, NGOs, or religious institutions) at the center when studying concepts of identity. Human agency can not be overlooked in favor of political, civic, or religious discussion nor reduced to mere acts of accord or resistance. The complexity of how agency intertwines with these realms must be examined, as they constantly play off and influence one another. Concepts of identity are ultimately held by individuals and must not be lumped together as some static narration by influential entities. Such an examination must also be properly situated across history –not only within political and economic scapes but ever evolving and intersecting cultural spheres influenced by local, regional, and global factors that consider, among many other things, the environment, basic needs, human psychology, and the day to day lived realities of people and their perceived familial and cultural obligations. This thesis not only calls for the exploration of traditional peacebuilding and examination of concepts of identity, it makes the case for the relevance of such analysis by linking identity to relationships, relationships to peace, and peace to genocide prevention. Therefore, it is believed and hoped that the ideas put forth here be applied to assist in gauging whether or not a society is moving towards or away from peace.



Rwanda, Genocide, Genocide prevention, Peacebuilding, Identity, Anthropology