Performing the Nation: Genocide, Justice, Reconciliation
Book: Performing the Nation: Genocide, Justice, Reconciliation
Written by: Ananda Breed
Published by: Seagull Books, 2014
Ananda Breed in her book ‘Performing the Nation: Genocide, Justice, reconciliation’ explores performance in relation to justice and reconciliation in Rwanda and includes the gacaca courts, theatre companies, and grassroots reconciliation associations. The narrative of a re-imagined identity for the country is performed on a national level through government sanctioned theatre companies and what the author refers to as the re-writing history project. Furthermore, on a community level this narrative is embodied through grassroots associations.
The book is divided into six chapters. The first chapter delves into the history of Rwanda, covering the arrival of Germans, the link between culture, identity, and historical shifts in power between the two major ethnic groups – Hutu and Tutsi, as well as the rule of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). The second chapter uses the theatrical production ‘The Investigation’ to explore the interplay between theatre and justice, focusing on systems of transitional justice like gacaca in Rwanda and the TRC in South Africa, along with their theatrical counterparts (p.64). The third chapter discusses the Gacaca courts as Kubabarira performances and explores how they were used as a national performance to demonstrate the power of RPF and to address the collective guilt of the Hutu population while also serving as a means of memorializing and commemorating the genocide through a weekly ritual of ceremony, justice, and reconciliation. Chapter four examines the limits of using theatre and culture as a reconciliation process, while chapter five, through Ukuri Mubinyoma, a participatory theatre project, explores how rape was used as a tool for ethnic cleansing during the genocide.
“This book has examined the macro and micro layers of the construction and performance of gacaca, emphasising the negotiation between how memory and testimony relate to personal and collective functions..(p.188)”Performing the Nation- Genocide, Justice, Reconciliation