Rwanda Before the Genocide: Catholic Politics and Ethnic Discourse in the Late Colonial Era

ISBN : 9780199982271

J. J. Carney
358 Pages
177 x 245 mm
Pub date
Oct 2013
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Between 1920 and 1994, the Catholic Church was Rwanda's most dominant social and religious institution. In recent years, the church has been critiqued for its perceived complicity in the ethnic discourse and political corruption that culminated with the 1994 genocide. In analyzing the contested legacy of Catholicism in Rwanda, Rwanda Before the Genocide focuses on a critical decade, from 1952 to 1962, when Hutu and Tutsi identities became politicized, essentialized, and associated with political violence. This study-the first English-language church history on Rwanda in over 30 years-examines the reactions of Catholic leaders such as the Swiss White Father Andre Perraudin and Aloys Bigirumwami, Rwanda's first indigenous bishop. It evaluates Catholic leaders' controversial responses to ethnic violence during the revolutionary changes of 1959-62 and after Rwanda's ethnic massacres in 1963-64, 1973, and the early 1990s. In seeking to provide deeper insight into the many-threaded roots of the Rwandan genocide, Rwanda Before the Genocide offers constructive lessons for Christian ecclesiology and social ethics in Africa and beyond.


Table of Contents
I. Contested Categories: A Brief History of "Hutu" and "Tutsi"
II. Building a Catholic Kingdom in Central Africa, 1900-1950
III. Success Breeds Restlessness, 1950-1955
IV. The Irruption of Hutu-Tutsi Tensions, 1956-1959
V. The Catholic Church & Political Revolution in Rwanda, 1959-1962
VI. The Catholic Church & Postcolonial Ethnic Violence
VII. Epilogue: Lessons from Rwanda
Appendix I: Timeline
Appendix II: Glossary

About the author: 

J.J. Carney is Assistant Professor of Theology at Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska. His research and teaching interests engage the theological and historical dimensions of the Catholic experience in modern Africa. He has published articles in African Ecclesial Review, Modern Theology, Journal of Religion in Africa, and Studies in World Christianity.

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