Date of Degree

2-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Karen Miller

Subject Categories

African Studies | Arts and Humanities | International and Area Studies | International Relations

Keywords

Rwanda, Genocide, Colonialism, Ideology, Hamitic Myth, Tutsi, Hutu

Abstract

April 07, 1994, will forever remain in the history of Rwanda, as it commemorates the beginning of the Rwandan genocide. In 100 days, an estimated 800,000 people, who were overwhelmingly Tutsi, lost their lives at the hand of their neighbors, friends, and families. Although the genocide occurred 26 years ago, there is still much debate surrounding the cause of this tragedy. While some scholars have suggested that the genocide was triggered by contemporary economic and political factors, this thesis is taking a post-colonial approach by bringing into context the colonial history of Rwanda. In the discussion of these colonial roots, one important factor is taken into consideration: a colonial ideology known as the Hamitic hypothesis. This thesis argues that the Hamitic hypothesis or the Hamitic myth, which was exported by European colonizers to Rwanda, planted the seeds for the hatred that led to the massacre of Tutsis in 1994. The effect of the hypothesis was twofold. First, it shaped the institutionalization of ethnic differences through a series of discriminatory reforms and administrative systems that favored Tutsis during the colonial era. Second, the recontextualization and weaponization of the myth after independence resulted in discrimination against Tutsis during the first and second Hutu republics and their subsequent extermination during the genocide.

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