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Accepted Paper:

Togetherness amongst Rwandan Youth Conceived from Genocide Rape: Questioning ‘Collective Identities’  
Loes Loning (University of Cape Town)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the lived experiences of Rwandan youth conceived from genocide rape as they move between their attachments with the past, present social worlds, and collectively imagined futures. The role of NGOs in creating spaces of togetherness to shape ‘collective identities’ is interrogated.

Paper long abstract:

This paper details the lived experiences of Rwandan youth conceived from rape during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. It is based on 30 months of ethnographic research that explored the social worlds and family relations of young people and their mothers. The research was conducted in close collaboration with NGOs that organize ‘youth camps’ to bring young people together to share experiences and create social support networks. The ‘collective identities’ that are formed in these ‘youth camps’ are influenced by national narratives around unity and reconciliation that are transmitted by NGOs and state actors to ‘teach’ forgiveness. The study found that young people used ‘taught’ language around ‘forgiveness’ and ‘reconciliation’ to give meaning to their fraught and fragile positions within kinship ties and social communities. In finding commonality within their lived experiences – in which loneliness and isolation was often central – these ‘youth camps’ allowed young people to find strength and self-acceptance as a collective, which in turn allowed them to adopt and adapt discourses around hope for their futures and the peaceful future of Rwanda. Therefore, this paper highlights how language ‘taught’ by NGOs impacts the ways in which young people conceived from violence understand and perceive their (common and individual) past, present and future. Importantly, this paper also asks scholars to reflect on how academic discourses around children and young people conceived from violence imposes a ‘collectivity’ upon them that may not be experienced by them as such.

Panel P047b
Emergent collectivities and practices of commoning in and after conflict
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -