Peaceful Selves: Personhood, Nationhood, and the Post-Conflict Moment in Rwanda | BERGHAHN BOOKS
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Peaceful Selves: Personhood, Nationhood, and the Post-Conflict Moment in Rwanda

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Peaceful Selves

Personhood, Nationhood, and the Post-Conflict Moment in Rwanda

Laura Eramian

202 pages, 3 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-711-6 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (November 2017)

ISBN  978-1-78920-493-3 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (September 2019)

eISBN 978-1-78533-712-3 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®



“This is richly detailed and an often startling ethnography with sharp insights and resonance for learning about post-conflict moments and the potential future for settings within, and far beyond, modern Rwanda.” • Conflict & Society

“…an important addition to the scholarship on Rwanda. The book makes important contributions as well to the understanding of encounters between modernity and tradition and the ways in which people negotiate selfhood in changing environments… As a result of its universal themes, this book deserves an audience well beyond the audience of African studies scholars.” • American Anthropologist

"Sensibly researched over a period of 10 years with 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork, Laura Eramian redirects our anthropological focus away from elusive ‘post-genocide’ research designs of scholars coming into the ‘New Rwanda’ after 1994, and compellingly puts researchers’ fetish with violence in African contexts to test. She unearths the multiple layers of complexities, forces and justifications for why even in communities of proximity, humans commit atrocious acts and how this is rather explained by the dynamics of modernity, power and politics than ethnic categorisations and identifications." • Social Anthropology

“This book presents a rich ethnography of urban life in Butare, Rwanda’s second biggest city and once its cultural centre, providing impressive new insights into everyday life in postgenocide Rwanda.” • Susan Thomson, Colgate University

“This is a well-written book, with thorough and clearly presented research that carefully situates the work within relevant bodies of literature on Rwanda and post-conflict reconciliation.” • Kristin Doughty, University of Rochester


This ethnography of personhood in post-genocide Rwanda investigates how residents of a small town grapple with what kinds of persons they ought to become in the wake of violence. Based on fieldwork carried out over the course of a decade, it uncovers how conflicting moral demands emerge from the 1994 genocide, from cultural contradictions around “good” personhood, and from both state and popular visions for the future. What emerges is a profound dissonance in town residents’ selfhood. While they strive to be agents of change who can catalyze a new era of modern Rwandan nationhood, they are also devastated by the genocide and struggle to recover a sense of selfhood and belonging in the absence of kin, friends, and neighbors. In drawing out the contradictions at the heart of self-making and social life in contemporary Rwanda, this book asserts a novel argument about the ordinary lives caught in global post-conflict imperatives to remember and to forget, to mourn and to prosper.

Laura Eramian is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada. Her previous publications appeared in the Political and Legal Anthropology Review, Focaal: Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, Anthropologica, and the International Journal of Conflict and Violence.

Subject: Anthropology (General)Peace and Conflict Studies
Area: Africa


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