Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Glenn Petersen

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


Genocide, Akazu, Colonization, Interahamwe, Hutu, Tutsi


The primary objective of this research is to critically examine the elements that caused the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and provide and intelligible, logical explanation of why the victims were killed. I will also reveal how many civilian lives could have been saved if the international community had intervened appropriately. It is my contention that to understand why the 1994 Rwandan genocide occurred, three important and closely interconnected dynamics in the history of Rwanda need to be conceptualized - because absent one of them the genocide would not have taken place. First, the colonial political legacy, which established the political identities of the Hutu and Tutsi and glorified the Tutsi over the Hutu, initiated the animosity between the Hutu and Tutsi that precipitated a cascade of violent events leading to the genocide. Second, the 1959 revolution, which marked a strong demand for decolonization and freedom from the Tutsi absolute monarchy by the Hutu. This demand for decolonization and liberation ushered in a restructuring that vested the majority Hutu with absolute control and enforced their identities as the “rightful native” of Rwanda and the minority Tutsi as “nonindigenous.” Third, the invasion of the Rwandan Patriotic Force (RPF) in 1990 - which Hutu extremists perceived as a challenge to “Hutu Power” and a signal of the return to the days of servitude, was the last straw.