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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 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Published (November 2017)

eISBN 978-1-78533-712-3 eBook

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“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: General Anthropology Peace & Conflict Studies
Area: Africa


List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations

Introduction: Person, Nation, and Violence in Rwanda

Chapter 1. The Post-Conflict Moment in Butare and its Antecedents
Chapter 2. Ethnicity’s Specter in Post-Ethnic Times
Chapter 3. Living with Absence
Chapter 4. Creativity, Positive Thinking, and Their Perils
Chapter 5. Making Peace by Remaking Persons

Conclusion: The Post-conflict, the Postcolonial, and Peaceful Selves


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