Race, Religion, and Rhetoric Depicting Genocide in Rwanda and Sudan

Main Article Content

Rebecca Burns


This paper will examine the general trends in portrayals of the conflicts in Rwanda and Sudan. Coverage of Rwanda during its genocide often reduced the situation to inter-tribal fighting. Th is depiction not only failed to mobilize international action but implied that the killings were motivated solely by racial hatred rather than placing them within a more complex historical and political context. Furthermore, the frequent insertion of the word “tribal” into discussion implied that the two ethnic groups involved bore simplistic, senseless grudges against each other. Although there was a shift in the type of analysis produced after the end of the genocide, much of this analysis still failed to adequately address the political nature of the genocide and thus perpetuated some of the same implications. Invoking the failures in Rwanda, the United States in particular has turned its attention to the Darfur region of Sudan. However, this attention may stem from more than an increased political will to stop another genocide. Both in Darfur and in an earlier conflict in South Sudan, outside political and religious groups, particularly in the US, were accused of simplifying and capitalizing on the situation for their own gain. Nevertheless, the increased advocacy for Darfur that has accompanied the involvement of such groups is constructive so long as the advocacy has no goal other than an end to genocide and the end that is brokered addresses the complex nature of the conflict.

Article Details