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Look Inside Politics and Violence in Burundi

Politics and Violence in Burundi
The Language of Truth in an Emerging State


Part of African Studies

  • Author: Aidan Russell, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva
  • Publication planned for: October 2019
  • availability: Not yet published - available from October 2019
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108499347

£ 75.00

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About the Authors
  • Telling the neglected history of decolonisation and violence in Burundi, Aidan Russell examines the political language of truth that drove extraordinary change, from democracy to genocide. By focusing on the dangerous border between Burundi and Rwanda, this study uncovers the complexity from which ethnic ideologies, side-lined before independence in 1962, became gradually all-consuming by 1972. Framed by the rhetoric and uncertainty of 'truth', Russell draws on both African and European language source material to demonstrate how values of authority and citizenship were tested and transformed across the first decade of Burundi's independence, and a post-colony created in the interactions between African peasants and politicians across the margins of their states. Culminating with a rare examination of the first postcolonial genocide on the African continent, a so-called 'forgotten genocide' on the world stage, Russell reveals how the postcolonial order of central Africa came into being.

    • Reveals the history behind contemporary political events in Burundi through analysis of internal and regional construction of postcolonial states
    • Draws on both African and European language source material
    • Provides the only detailed English account of the first postcolonial genocide in Africa
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Aidan Russell has written a powerful and disturbing study of how struggles over power and a government's claim to monopolise truth led to the ethnicisation of politics and to violence in a newly independent country.' Frederick Cooper, New York University

    'Path-breaking, erudite and meticulously researched, this stands as an impressive achievement. No other work has done more to explicate the paradoxes, subtleties and brutalities of Burundi's tragic history. Few analysts have shown a deeper understanding of the relationship of language (Kirundi) to popular perceptions of truth, and ultimately to politics, than Aidan Russell in this outstanding contribution. I cannot recommend it too highly to anyone seriously interested in making sense of Burundi politics.' René Lemarchand, Professor Emeritus, University of Florida

    'This book reveals the power and potential of national history as Russell puts language at the center of African politics. Violence and truth, speech and borders, lies and citizenship constitute the history of Burundi after 1962, and they remain in constant tension with every memory and speech about the postcolony.' Luise White, Professor Emerita, University of Florida

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    Product details

    • Publication planned for: October 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108499347
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 mm
    • availability: Not yet published - available from October 2019
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: talking politics and watching the border prologue, 1796–1959: people of the land
    Part I. 1959–1961: 'To See the Son of a King':
    1. Ukuri ni kumwe: talking truth
    2. Ibigendajoro: rebels in the name of the king
    Part II. 1961–1967: 'A Most Total Anarchy':
    3. Abanyabihuha: talking loyalty
    4. Ukuri n'ubutungane: the fate of the Bourgmestres
    Part III. 1968–1972: 'Please Send Me a Car to Take Them Away':
    5. Politiques bw'insaku: talking vigilance
    6. Couper tout ce qui dépasse: truth and violence
    Conclusion: the Court of Baribuka

  • Author

    Aidan Russell, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva
    Aidan Russell is Associate Professor of International History at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. He is the author of articles in Africa, The International Journal of African Historical Studies and the Journal of Eastern African Studies. He is the editor of Truth, Silence and Violence in Emerging States: Histories of the Unspoken (2018).

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