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Whispering Truth to Power
Everyday Resistance to Reconciliation in Postgenocide Rwanda
Susan Thomson

Africa and the Diaspora: History, Politics, Culture
Thomas Spear, Neil Kodesh, Tejumola Olaniyan, Michael G. Schatzberg, and James H. Sweet, Series Editors

Selected for Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Title list, 2014

“Provides a rich discussion of the contemporary Rwandan context, giving voice to people who are largely excluded from public discussions of Rwanda. A much-needed corrective to the cheery presentation of Rwanda in the popular press.”
—Timothy Longman, author of Christianity and Genocide in Rwanda

For 100 days in 1994, genocide engulfed Rwanda. Since then, many in the international community have praised the country’s postgenocide government for its efforts to foster national unity and reconciliation by downplaying ethnic differences and promoting “one Rwanda for all Rwandans.” Examining how ordinary rural Rwandans experience and view these policies, Whispering Truth to Power challenges the conventional wisdom on postgenocide Rwanda.

Susan Thomson finds that many of Rwanda’s poorest citizens distrust the local officials charged with implementing the state program and believe that it ignores the deepest problems of the countryside: lack of land, jobs, and a voice in policies that affect lives and livelihoods. Based on interviews with dozens of Rwandan peasants and government officials, this book reveals how the nation’s disenfranchised poor have been engaging in everyday resistance, cautiously and carefully—“whispering” their truth to the powers that be. This quiet opposition, Thomson argues, suggests that some of the nation’s most celebrated postgenocide policies have failed to garner the grassroots support needed to sustain peace.

Susan Thomson is assistant professor of peace and conflict studies at Colgate University. She has published articles in African Affairs, African Studies Review, and The Journal of Modern African Studies, and she also serves as the Amnesty International–USA Country Specialist for Rwanda and Burundi.





“Thomson shows how Paul Kagame’s version of national reconciliation is designed not merely to forge a united Rwanda but also to control its citizens, shape the country’s history in a self-serving manner, and ensure Kagame’s hold on power.”
Foreign Affairs

“Thomson makes it possible to get behind the official script of Rwandan national unity and reconciliation in a way that few researchers are able to do.”
—Catharine Newbury, Smith College



Additional Resources

From New Books in Genocide Studies (http://newbooksingenocidestudies.com/), an audio interview with author Susan Thomson. Click here for full details.



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Of Related Interest

Remaking Rwanda

Remaking Rwanda
State Building and Human Rights after Mass Violence
Edited by Scott Straus and Lars WaldorfAuthor


November 2013
LC: 2013010424 DT
256 pp.   6 x 9  
10 b/w illus., 2 maps, 1 table

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