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Bearing witness to trauma : representations of the Rwandan genocide

Samuel, Karin (2010-03)

Thesis (MA (English))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis will examine representations of the Rwandan genocide and its aftermath in selected literary and filmic narratives. It aims in particular to explore the different ways in which narrative devices are used to convey trauma to the reader or viewer, thus enabling them to bear witness to it. These include language, discourse, image, structure and perspectives, on the one hand, and the framing of the genocide on screen, on the other hand. The thesis argues that these narrative devices are used to provide partial insight into the trauma of the genocide and/or to produce empathy or distance between readers and viewers and the victims, perpetrators and survivors of the genocide. Particular attention is paid to the ways in which the selected novels and films advance the human dimension of the genocide. This will shift both victims and perpetrators out of the domain of statistics and evoke emotional engagement from readers and viewers. The thesis argues for the importance of narrative in bearing witness to trauma, particularly due to its unique ability to forge an emotional connection between reader or viewer and character. The primary texts analysed in the thesis are the novels Inyenzi: A Story of Love and Genocide by South African author Andrew Brown and Murambi, The Book of Bones by Senegalese author Boubacar Boris Diop, along with the films Shooting Dogs, directed by British Michael Caton- Jones, and Hotel Rwanda, directed by American Terry George. In addition to considering the use of narrative devices to produce empathy and engagement among readers and viewers, the thesis explores also the implications of the various outsider perspectives of the writers and film-makers, and the effect that this has on their narratives, not least given the role played by the world community in failing to avert the genocide .

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis ondersoek die voorstellings van Rwanda volksmoorde en die nagevolge in geselekteerde narratiewe tekste en rolprente. Die tesis poog om op verskillende maniere ondersoek in stel na die narratiewe middels om die trauma oor te dra na die leser en kyker. Dit sluit taal, diskoers, beelde, struktuur en perspektiewe aan die eenkant, en verfilming op die skerm aan die anderkant. Die tesis argumenteer dat narratiewe middels verskaf gedeeltelike insig van die trauma van die volksmoorde en/of genereer empatie of afstand tussen leser en kyker en die slagoffers, skuldiges en die oorlewendes van die volksmoorde. Aandag sal veral gegee word op welke wyse die geselekteerde romans en rolprente die menslike dimensie van volksmoord bevorder. Beide die slagoffers en skuldiges word uit die ondersoekterrein van statistieke geskuif en daar gaan gefokus word op die uitlok van emosionele betokkendheid van lesers en kykers. Die tesis argumenteer vir die belangrikheid van die narratief om as getuienis op te tree van trauma – veral as gevolg die unieke vermoë om tussen die leser of die kyker en die karakter emosionele bande te smee. Die primêre tekste wat in hierdie tesis geanaliseer word, is die romans, Inyenzi: A Story of Love and Genocide deur Suid-Afrikaner Andrew Brown, Murambi, The Book of Bones deur Senegalese skrywer Boubacar Boris Diop, en die rolprente Shooting Dogs, onder leiding van die Brit, Michael Caton-Jones en Hotel Rwanda, onder leiding van die Ierse, Terry George. Afgesien van die gebruik van narratiewe middels om empatie en betrokkenheid van lesers en kykers te genereer, ondersoek die tesis ook die implikasies van die onderskeie buitestaander perspektiewe van die skrywers en rolprentmakers en die effek op hulle narratiewe – veral die rol wat hulle speel in die wêreldgemeenskap om volksmoorde te voorkom.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/4274
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