Performing the Nation: Genocide, Justice, Reconciliation – Edited by: Ananda Breed
Book: Performing the Nation: Genocide, Justice, Reconciliation
Edited by: Ananda Breed
Published by: Seagull Books, 2014
This book by Ananda Breed discusses the re-imagination and re-writing of Rwandan identity as a performance, scripting national iterations that have shaped the post-genocide Rwandan subject [2005-2012]. Breed draws on theories of construction and deconstruction of the self and nation through violence and the arts. The concept of performativity is employed to explore the connections between ‘performative utterances based on nation building’ and ‘campaigns of justice and reconciliation’ that are globalised and politicised beyond nation’s borders. This work is a study of how the State, through careful selection and censoring of performance, contents curates national narratives in post-genocide Rwanda and in the process conceptualises the geographic and political boundaries of the nation. Through her engagement at Kigali Central prison, Breed explores the role of the performative as a space for visibility of alternative nationhood, despite the overarching State-led narrative. The research is primarily based on author’s observation and analysis of performatives during the national implementation of gacca (an indigenous, pre-colonial Rwandian court for mediation, in which opposing parties sit on grass to resolve conflict).
“In light of the use of myth and legend in the plays written by the Tutsi diaspora, I have coined the term legendary theatre to describe theatre produced by the returned Tutsi exiles, performed on the national stages of contemporary Rwanda as an emblem of national identity and unity. Playwrights and poets such as Kalisa Rugano, Jean-Marie Kayishema and Jean-Marie Rurangwa used theatre to build a sense of Rwandan nationalism and identity for Tutsi refugees. It was used to create a vision of Rwanda for the Tutsi diaspora, the ancestral land that many Tutsi refugees had never lived or experienced.” (Pg. 49)Performing the Nation-