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Ethnicity Rwanda SOAN181

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Julie Jenkins

on 2 December 2014

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Transcript of Ethnicity Rwanda SOAN181

"Ethnic tension in Rwanda is nothing new. There have been always been disagreements between the majority Hutus and minority Tutsis, but the animosity between them has grown substantially since the colonial period.

The two ethnic groups are actually very similar - they speak the same language, inhabit the same areas and follow the same traditions.

However, Tutsis are often taller and thinner than Hutus, with some saying their origins lie in Ethiopia."
(BBC News, Rwanda How the Genocide Happened 2011)
An ethnic group is classically understood as a group that shares a common language or culture.
--But this is a problematic classification-- Why??
Historically, Anthros and colonial officials identified groups based on ideas of 'tribe' or 'ethnic group'
"Problems arise when 'we misplace concreteness' and set out to prove our abstract concepts (our ideal types) really do correspond to reality, rather than being contingent approximations" (Eltringham).
How has group classifications changed in Rwanda over time?
Before 1860--
--expansion of central kingdom ruled by a king drawn from the Bahindiro lineage of the Nyinginya clan
at the time, land distribution and identity expressed in terms of patrilineages
--but with expansion of kingdom, land distribution was centralized in hands of chiefs appointed by king.
"Tutsi" took on meaning as associated with those who had authority over land, cattle, people
--wealth & power constituted Tutsi status
"Hutu" referenced a client, or those without cattle, power etc

Belgian colonial administrators assumed kingdom was divided into self-evident categories of Hutu, Tutsi, & Twa
--minority over majority
--intelligent over non-intelligent
--superior over inferior
1930s-- identification became racialized
--assigned ethno-racial label and issued id card
--state imposed ethnicity
What political factors shaped the consolidation of ethnic categories since Independence? What political factors contributed to the 1994 Genocide?
How are accusations of 'genocide ideology', divisionism, and negationism used in Rwanda?
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