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Rwanda, Ethnicity, and Genocide. ethnicity. Does this mean ethnicity is not “real”?. more. The Power of Identity. Violence today world wide is largely ethnic violence, wars, ethnic cleansing, genocide mainly related to ethnic and religious divisions, not mainly class struggle.

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Rwanda ethnicity and genocide l.jpg

Rwanda, Ethnicity, and Genocide

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Does this mean ethnicity is not “real”?

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The Power of Identity

Violence today world wide is largely ethnic violence, wars, ethnic cleansing, genocide mainly related to ethnic and religious divisions, not mainly class struggle.

While “secular states” are the goal of US policy, ethnicity and religion are major ways we organize meaning.

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How did the Middle East get its boundaries?

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The uncertainties of globalization

reinforce localized, ethnic identity


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Where is Rwanda?

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Hutu and Tutsi in pre-colonial times

  • Hutu and Tutsi have always spoken the same language

  • Tutsi meant warrior/farmer

  • Hutu meant peasant

  • While Tutsis generally are taller and lighter skinned, intermarriage through the years has rendered identification by sight impossible

  • Hutus, by accumulating enough property, could become Tutsi. The distinctions were fluid

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German and Belgian Rule

  • Both colonial powers sharpened the distinction between Tutsi and Hutu so it represented class, or more properly caste distinctions.

  • Tutsis were a neo-colonial ruling class.

  • The Germans in 1914 had only 5 civil and 24 military officers in Rwanda. In other words they depended on the Tutsi

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UN Convention on Genocide


The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace, or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.

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Article Two

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethical, racial or religious group as such:

  • (a) Killing members of the group;

  • (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

  • (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

  • (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

  • (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

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What happened in Rwanda?

900,000 murdered in 100 days

That is about 9,000 per day, every day, for more than three months

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US Defense Department memo during the genocide

“Be careful. Legal at State was worried about this yesterday — Genocide finding could commit [the US government] to actually ‘do something.’ ”

May 1, 1994

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Who is Richard Clarke?

Critic of Bush policy on Iraq. Managed US policy on Rwanda and staunchly opposed any intervention and demanded the removal of UN peacekeeping forces.

When UNAMIR officers said 5000 troops could stop the killing, the UN, under US pressure, withdrew all peacekeepers.

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Why so much violence today?

  • We are still experiencing the consequences of colonialism and the ethnic division of the world by the colonial powers

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Progress in Africa

There are more phone lines in Manhatten or Tokyo than all of sub-saharan Africa

Combined export earnings of 45 African countries (500 million people) declined from $50 billion in 1980 to $36 billion in 1990

World imports from Africa declined from 3.7% in 1980 to 1.4% in 1995

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Africa and Globalization (2)

Food imports have grown 10% since 1980 in a continent that was once a food exporter

After a hefty growth of industry in the 1960s and a small increase in the 1970s, Africa’s industrial economy collapsed in the 1980s and had negative growth

International aid accounts for 12.4% of GNP in Africa; 2/3 of GNP in Mozambique and half in Somaila

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Africa and Globalization (3)

  • External debt went from 97% of the value of exports in 1980 to 324% in 1990

  • External debt rose from 30.6% in 1980 to 78.7% of GNP in 1990.

  • Direct foreign investment is only 2% of all DFI to the developing world.

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Does civilization mean less violence?

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