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Courts in ConflictInterpreting the Layers of Justice in Post-Genocide Rwanda$
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Nicola Palmer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199398195

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199398195.001.0001

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The Rwandan Social Context

The Rwandan Social Context

Chapter:
(p.25) 1 The Rwandan Social Context
Source:
Courts in Conflict
Author(s):

Nicola Palmer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199398195.003.0002

Chapter 1 provides an account of the historiographies of the Rwandan state, followed by a description and explanation of the genocide and the resultant transitional period. The focus is on both the continuities and the shifts in the exercise of political power in Rwanda. It argues that the construction of the Rwandan state in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries led to a small elite holding increasingly centralized power. The ethnic identities of Hutu and Tutsi provided a means of consolidating and contesting this power, culminating in the extreme violence of the 1994 genocide. Rwanda is a highly centralized state; however, the state has not been as strong at its margins as it is described at the center. An analysis of the connection between local and centralized power is necessary to explain the spread and variation in the genocidal violence, and the implementation of legal responses to that violence.

Keywords:   Rwanda, historiographies, ethnic identities, centralized power, variation

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