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Learning “To Be” Kinyarwanda in Postgenocide Rwanda: Immersion, Iteration, and Reflexivity in Times of Transition

  • Bert Ingelaere (a1)

The research activity generating data in times of transition is subject to politicization and needs to deal with widespread distrust due to the legacy of violence or atrocity. This article discusses the main principles of a research design that took into account these hindrances by making prudence its basic tenet. The objective was to generate understanding of the functioning of Rwanda’s gacaca court process through a heightened awareness in data collection. In doing so, this article calls attention to the importance of a reflective and adaptive research process in times of transitional justice. Two research principles are discussed in detail: immersion and iteration. The latter were adopted to facilitate the generation of context-specific knowledge on both breadth and depth of the transitional justice process. This article demonstrates how a pragmatic stance that draws on a variety of epistemologies and methodological approaches facilitates data collection as well as navigation of the field of study. It will be argued that data collection and the activity of navigating the field while collecting data reciprocally produce knowledge.

L’activité de recherche productrice de données en période de transition est vulnérable à la politicisation. Par ailleurs, elle doit vaincre la méfiance généralisée, produit d’un passé teinté de violence ou d’atrocités. Cet article présente les grands principes d’une activité de recherche prenant en compte ces problèmes en se fondant sur le principe de la prudence. L’objectif était de mieux comprendre le fonctionnement des tribunaux gacaca du Rwanda par une cueillette de données particulièrement prudente. Ce faisant, l’on attire l’attention sur l’importance d’un processus de recherche réfléchi et adaptatif en période de justice transitionnelle. Deux principes de recherche sont analysés à fond : l’immersion et l’itération. Ces principes ont été adoptés pour faciliter la production de connaissances contextuelles sur l’envergure et la profondeur du processus de justice transitionnelle. L’article démontre comment une démarche pragmatique, fondée sur des épistémologies et méthodologies diverses, facilite non seulement la collecte de données mais aussi l’exploration du domaine à l’étude. Enfin, l’on avance que la cueillette de données et l’exploration d’un domaine sont deux activités productrices de connaissances mutuellement renforçantes.

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