Writing and Filming the Genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda: Dismembering and Remembering Traumatic History is an innovative work in Francophone and African studies that examines a wide range of responses to the 1994 genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda. From survivor testimonies, to novels by African authors, to films such as Hotel Rwanda and Sometimes in April, the arts of witnessing are varied, comprehensive, and compelling. Alexandre Dauge-Roth compares the specific potential and the limits of each medium to craft unique responses to the genocide and instill in us its haunting legacy. In the wake of genocide, urgent questions arise: How do survivors both claim their shared humanity and speak the radically personal and violent experience of their past? How do authors and filmmakers make inconceivable trauma accessible to a society that will always remain foreign to their experience? How are we transformed by the genocide through these various modes of listening, viewing, and reading?
Dauge-Roth, Alexandre. Writing and filming the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda: dismembering and remembering traumatic history. Lexington Books, 2010. 291p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780739112298. Reviewed in 2011jan CHOICE.
Dauge-Roth (French, Bates College) considers the tension arising from "personal, collective, and official processes" of remembering and the ethical questions inherent to testimonial, literary, and cinematic expression. He also questions the relevance of political and social impediments to survivors' therapeutic testimonies. In the first section, the author looks at testimonial narratives by Tutsi survivors, whose voices allow a glimpse of their traumas and those of the dead--e.g., Yolande Mukagasana's Les blessures du silence and the play Rwanda 94, to which Mukagasana contributed. Part 2 comprises discussions of Francophone texts born from project Rwanda (a writing project gathering memories of the genocide): Boubacar Boris Diop's Murambi, Véronique Tadjo's The Shadow of Imana, Koulsy Lamko's The Butterfly of the Hills. In the last section the author analyzes seven films, among them Terry George's Hotel Rwanda and Raoul Peck's Sometime in April. The book offers a wealth of both theory and testimonies, but this reviewer thinks the author could have been more inquisitive about (and skeptical of) labels, the ongoing silences, and residual tragic occurrences in Africa's Great Lakes region. Still, this book, with its rich bibliography, stands as an important resource on the genocide.
Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals. -- K. M. Kapanga, University of Richmond
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