“A political monopoly held by one race”: The politicisation of ethnicity in colonial Rwanda

Mayersen, Deborah (2011). “A political monopoly held by one race”: The politicisation of ethnicity in colonial Rwanda. In: Damien W. Riggs and Clemence Due, Directions and Intersections: Proceedings of the 2011 Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association and Indigenous Studies Research Network Joint Conference. 2011 Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association and Indigenous Studies Research Network Joint Conference, Surfers Paradise, QLD, Australia, (167-180). 7-9 December 2011.

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Author Mayersen, Deborah
Title of paper “A political monopoly held by one race”: The politicisation of ethnicity in colonial Rwanda
Conference name 2011 Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association and Indigenous Studies Research Network Joint Conference
Conference location Surfers Paradise, QLD, Australia
Conference dates 7-9 December 2011
Proceedings title Directions and Intersections: Proceedings of the 2011 Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association and Indigenous Studies Research Network Joint Conference
Place of Publication Surfers Paradise, QLD, Australia
Publisher Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association
Publication Year 2011
Sub-type Fully published paper
ISBN 9780646566825
Editor Damien W. Riggs
Clemence Due
Start page 167
End page 180
Total pages 14
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Abstract/Summary In at least some parts of Rwanda, Hutu and Tutsi subgroups have existed since pre-colonial times. Under German and Belgian colonial rule, the distinction between the Hutu majority and Tutsi minority was perceived as a racial distinction. The Tutsi minority was regarded as racially superior, and given privileged access to education and indigenous positions of authority. Over time, this perception of Tutsi superiority was both institutionalized and internalised within Rwandan society. The ‘Hutu Awakening’ during the 1950s, however, saw issues surrounding race and privilege become highly politicised. As decolonisation loomed, the intersections between race and power became sites of bitter contestation. The Tutsi elite, long accustomed to their privileged status, sought to retain their hegemony through a rapid transition to independence utilising the existing power structure. The nascent Hutu counter-elite, by contrast, desperately sought access to the organs of power, lest they be ‘condemned forever to the role of subordinate manual workers, and this, worse still, after achieving an independence which they will have unwittingly helped to obtain’ (Niyonzima and others 1957: 3). Utilising a range of primary documents from the period, including manifestos of political parties, statements of leaders, and documents tabled at the United Nations Trusteeship Council, this paper will analyse the intersection of race and politics during the last decade of colonial rule in Rwanda. The roots of the ethnic hatred that led to the 1994 genocide can be traced to this period of great ethnic tension.
Q-Index Code E1
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Created: Tue, 31 Jan 2012, 19:54:36 EST by Deborah Mayersen on behalf of School of Political Science & Internat'l Studies