Presentation Title

The Interplay of Cultural and Personal Trauma: A Case Study of Rwanda

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

School

School of Arts and Humanities

Discipline

Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Mentor

Therese Seibert

Date & Time

April 9th at 3:15 PM - 4:15 PM

Location

David F. Putnam Science Center, Room 163

Abstract

This research applies Jeffery Alexander’s Theory of Cultural Trauma to post-genocide Rwanda. Alexander challenges the present understanding of cultural trauma, arguing that difficult societal events are not inherently traumatic. Instead, cultural trauma emerges from collective memory, which is socially constructed, mediated, and dispersed by collective agents to create a master narrative of trauma. The leading governmental party in Rwanda since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, is the primary carrier group and has constructed and disseminated the master narrative of post-genocide, cultural trauma. Drawing from observations made in Rwanda during May of 2015, the researcher critically assesses this master narrative and demonstrates how it deviates from personal narratives collected through scientific research. The implications of this disjuncture for individual Rwandans struggling with psychological trauma are discussed.

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Apr 9th, 3:15 PM

The Interplay of Cultural and Personal Trauma: A Case Study of Rwanda

David F. Putnam Science Center, Room 163

This research applies Jeffery Alexander’s Theory of Cultural Trauma to post-genocide Rwanda. Alexander challenges the present understanding of cultural trauma, arguing that difficult societal events are not inherently traumatic. Instead, cultural trauma emerges from collective memory, which is socially constructed, mediated, and dispersed by collective agents to create a master narrative of trauma. The leading governmental party in Rwanda since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, is the primary carrier group and has constructed and disseminated the master narrative of post-genocide, cultural trauma. Drawing from observations made in Rwanda during May of 2015, the researcher critically assesses this master narrative and demonstrates how it deviates from personal narratives collected through scientific research. The implications of this disjuncture for individual Rwandans struggling with psychological trauma are discussed.