Africa, Great Lakes, human rights, sociology of memory, transitional justice, reconciliation


This paper explores the question of what do Rwandans and Ugandans working on memorialization initiatives deem important when discussing the role of individual and collective memory in the aftermath of mass violence and human rights violations. Social scientists and human rights scholars have asserted the importance of memory in both reconciliation and healing after mass violence. However, it is difficult to determine the most appropriate way to facilitate reconciliation between groups who previously raped, stole from or killed one another, as there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. While policies cannot remedy the murder of one’s family, scholars, activists and practitioners argue that some action must be taken post-violence in order to address the trauma of these human rights violations (Caruth 1995; Gobodo-Madikizela 2009; Shaw 2010; VillaVicencio 2009). One type of reconciliation policy that has been generated in the wake of mass atrocity has been the formation of “memory committees” or individuals and organizations that work to support and promote memorialization efforts that aid both in remembering and providing redress for human rights violations. This project draws on interviews conducted by the authors with memory committee and organization members who actively engage in memory work in the Great Lakes region in Africa, specifically in Rwanda and Uganda. By understanding and analyzing the narratives of stakeholders in post-violence memory work, international and local actors can work to support effective processes on the ground in order to facilitate reconciliation.