Imagined Enemies, Concrete Victims. The Speech of Léon Mugesera and the Rwandan Genocide of 1994

Fosco Bugoni, Giovanni Corvino

Affiliation: University of Milano-Bicocca

Keywords: Rwandan genocide, Léon Mugesera, Tutsi and Hutu, cultural violence

Categories: Humanities, Social Sciences and Law

DOI: 10.17160/josha.5.1.382

Languages: English

The case that will be analysed is the speech delivered by the political figure Léon Mugesera in November 1992, linked to the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Through his words, it is possible to trace some of the main narratives that primed the ground for the genocide. They are an example of the processes through which a clear enemy, the Tutsi, have been imagined and defined prior to and during the outbreak of 1994 large-scale violence. The first aim of this paper is therefore to understand how modern state-level forces in Rwanda operated to generate narratives that strengthened ethnic affiliations in the eve of the genocide. The second aim is to investigate to what extent the genocidal violence was the product of relentless propaganda, unfounded rumours, prejudices and of collective memory.

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