Seminar: Novels of genocide: Remembering and forgetting the ethnic other in post-1994 novels in Rwanda

Cover Novels of GenocideThe 1994 genocide in Rwanda has been the central subject of many works of fiction including films, plays, and novels, to mention a few. This seminar focuses on novels and is built on the assumption that writing a novel about events as tragic as the genocide and the war implies that the novelists have to constantly make selections amongst events from the past and fill the blanks using their imagination. In so doing, they consciously or unconsciously engage in promoting one perspective on the past rather than the other. This seminar revolves around three hypotheses: The first hypothesis is that Tutsi novelists are most likely inclined towards the current dominant memory narrative that casts the 1990–1994 period as one of a liberation struggle that aimed at stopping the genocide against the Tutsi. In this case, the Tutsi victims are remembered, whereas the Hutu victims are absent. The second hypothesis is that some Hutu authors are likely to stay ‘neutral’ and ‘colourless’ about the past or simply to tell the ‘safest’ story possible, by including a few aspects from the officially promoted narrative. This implies that the Tutsi victims are remembered, and that the Hutu ones are missing or difficult to detect in the narrative. The third hypothesis is that some other Hutu novelists are likely to challenge the government-sponsored memory narrative and focus on the repressed part of the memories of the 1990–1997 period. Their novels stress the killings of Hutu civilians by the RPF rebels and pay little attention to the genocide against the Tutsi. In these novels, the Hutu victims are ostensibly remembered whereas the Tutsi counterparts occupy a secondary victim status.

This seminar is based on Nyirubugara's forthcoming book Novels of genocide. Remembering and forgetting the ethnic other in fictional Rwanda. The book will be published at Sidestone Press and will appear early April. It can be purchased at the seminar (€ 25,-).


Portrait Olivier NyirubugaraDr. Olivier Nyirubugara is a lecturer in Journalism, Media Theory, and International Communication Management at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. He taught similar subjects at Erasmus University Rotterdam between 2012 and 2016. His areas of research include [but are not limited to] Cultural Memory, especially aspects relating to memory and its mediation, memory and politics, as well as memory and education. In 2013, Nyirubugara published: Complexities and Dangers of Remembering and Forgetting in Rwanda. Leiden: Sidestone Press. Memory Traps Vol. 1.
He can be reached at:

Date, time and location

13 April 2017
15.30 - 17.00
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room 5A41 (5th floor)