In the horrific events of the mid-1990s in Rwanda, tens of
thousands of Hutu killed their Tutsi friends, neighbors, even
family members. That ghastly violence has overshadowed a fact
almost as noteworthy: that hundreds of thousands of Hutu killed no
one. In a transformative revisiting of the motives behind and
specific contexts surrounding the Rwandan genocide, Lee Ann Fujii
focuses on individual actions rather than sweeping categories.
Fujii argues that ethnic hatred and fear do not satisfactorily
explain the mobilization of Rwandans one against another. Fujii's
extensive interviews in Rwandan prisons and two rural communities
form the basis for her claim that mass participation in the
genocide was not the result of ethnic antagonisms. Rather, the
social context of action was critical. Strong group dynamics and
established local ties shaped patterns of recruitment for and
participation in the genocide.
This web of social interactions bound people to power holders
and killing groups. People joined and continued to participate in
the genocide over time, Fujii shows, because killing in large
groups conferred identity on those who acted destructively. The
perpetrators of the genocide produced new groups centered on
destroying prior bonds by killing kith and kin.
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