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Rwanda After Genocide
Gender, Identity and Post-Traumatic Growth


  • Date Published: October 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108426138
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About the Authors
  • In the 1994 Rwanda genocide, around 1 million people were brutally murdered in just thirteen weeks. This book offers an in-depth study of posttraumatic growth in the testimonies of the men and women who survived, highlighting the ways in which they were able to build a new, and often enhanced, way of life. In so doing, Caroline Williamson Sinalo advocates a new reading of trauma: one that recognises not just the negative, but also the positive responses to traumatic experiences. Through an analysis of testimonies recorded in Kinyarwanda by the Genocide Archive of Rwanda, the book focuses particularly on the relationship between posttraumatic growth and gender and examines it within the wider frames of colonialism and traditional cultural practices. Offering a striking alternative to dominant paradigms on trauma, the book reveals that, notwithstanding the countless tales of horror, pain, and loss in Rwanda, there are also stories of strength, recovery, and growth.

    • Introduces a new approach to the study of trauma texts and first-hand accounts
    • Allows for a bottom-up understanding of posttraumatic growth in the specific context of post-genocide Rwanda
    • Provides an in-depth view of the gendered nature of posttraumatic experiences in Rwanda
    • Extends the scope of postcolonial studies
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Rwanda after Genocide is an important and unique book. In a model of gender-inclusive research, Caroline Williamson Sinalo brings a deep humanity and critical vigour to her study of masculinities and femininities during and after the 1994 genocide. Drawing on revelatory and sometimes wrenching survivor testimonies, she has gleaned vital insights into the daunting challenge of 'post-traumatic growth' in Rwanda.' Adam Jones, author of Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction

    'Based on extensive interviews of genocide survivors, Williamson Sinalo provocatively reconsiders how we ought to approach trauma in post-genocide Rwanda. While acknowledging the pain, suffering and loss many endured, her focus on post-traumatic growth offers a salutary complement to Western trauma theories which, too often, fail to recognize survivors' ability to reshape their lives in ways they see as more meaningful than before the genocide.' Alexandre E. Dauge-Roth, Bates College, Maine

    '[T]his wise and luminous book about post-traumatic growth in Rwandan genocide survivor testimonies is essential reading for anyone interested in studying the legacies of violence in post-conflict situations.' Stef Craps, Ghent University

    'Navigating both the dark and bright days seen in Rwanda, and using the 1994 genocide as the central point of analysis, Caroline Williamson Sinalo offers a sensitive look at the pain experienced since.' Ernest Mutwarasibo, University of Rwanda

    'Caroline Williamson Sinalo's nuanced and complex account skewers two clichés about post-genocide Rwanda: everyday citizens lack agency and voice; and the consequences of the genocide for survivors have been exclusively negative. Analysing archival testimonies assembled by Rwandan researchers, Williamson Sinalo shows the limitations of Western theories of trauma when applied to the Rwandan context and highlights the salience of the provocative concept of 'posttraumatic growth'. This book is a must-read for anyone wanting to go beyond the black-and-white accounts of present day Rwanda and the narrow theoretical understandings of 'trauma' that currently dominate the literature.' Phil Clark, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

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    Customer reviews

    18th Aug 2019 by GormfhlaithHughes

    I attempt to temper my enthusiasm with the knowledge we cannot declare something perfect or a masterpiece when diverse voices still do not have an ease of access to courses, community support or publishing still privileged to dominant white males. Dr. Caroline Williamson Sinalo’s book, Rwanda After Genocide: Gender, Identity and Post-Traumatic Growth is for me, outstanding work—and I am still reading it. I have read countless personal testimonies, psychological narratives and self-help books on the subjects of trauma—but they lacked a completion I was hungry for. There appeared to be no challenge to the theories put forward, at least none that satisfied me. Of course, my reading list was not exhaustive and my thoughts and ideas, in truth remained in their embryonic stage of development. Dr. Sinalo applied Post Traumatic Growth theories, for the first time, to a non-white, non-European context—which highlighted the gaping holes I had encountered previously but could not articulate in literary or academic terms and further, she lay down a foundation of the collective trauma of colonialism, which I previously understood as the malignancy of conditioning. Exposing the weakness of subjectivity in translation when researching, the negative impact of positivity (a discourse I had already come to), and her respectful and incredible evenness of addressing gender within the context of genocide and post-traumatic growth, made me a little in awe of her. This academic book, has thus far impacted me on a personal, intellectual and psychological level and allowed me a sense of belonging with a people I have never met. Dr. Sinalo has also, very unexpectedly, become a guiding light for me as I am about to begin my own brand new journey in research in the world of academia. This too, feels Divinely ordained.

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108426138
    • length: 240 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 155 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • contains: 9 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Defying silence, defying theory
    2. Postcolonial posttraumatic growth in Rwandan men
    3. Rwanda's women and posttraumatic individualism
    4. Communal men and agentic women: posttraumatic growth at the collective level
    5. What is really unspeakable? Gender and posttraumatic growth at the international level

  • Author

    Caroline Williamson Sinalo, University College Cork
    Caroline Williamson Sinalo is Lecturer in World Languages at University College Cork. Awarded her Ph.D. from the University of Nottingham in 2014, she has published numerous articles on the lives and experiences of Rwandan genocide survivors, notably on the topic of posttraumatic growth. Her Ph.D., funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council Collaborative Doctoral Award, was carried out in partnership with the Aegis Trust charity, and involved spending a year working in Rwanda at the national archive. Her collaboration with the Aegis Trust has since continued and she has twice received Aegis Research, Policy and Higher Education (RPHE) funding. Williamson Sinalo's research has also been supported by the Irish Research Council (IRC).

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