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When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda
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When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  421 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews

"When we captured Kigali, we thought we would face criminals in the state; instead, we faced a criminal population." So a political commissar in the Rwanda Patriotic Front reflected after the 1994 massacre of as many as one million Tutsis in Rwanda. Underlying his statement is the realization that, though ordered by a minority of state functionaries, the slaughter was perf
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 9th 2001 by Princeton University Press (first published 2001)
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Oct 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I read Philip Gourevitch's book over five years ago, I thought that it was the best book to understand Rwanda and the genocide in 1995. But Gourevitch is a journalist and Mamdani is an academic. Mamdani breaks down the evolution of the political identities of Hutu and Tutsi into native and settler. These identities were created under Belgian colonialism and reinforced in the post-colonial era. To understand the complexities of identity and Rwanda, one has to read this book. Mamdani is the m ...more
Ian Hefele
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Took a long time to read about this hard subject. I hope we never go down this road
Feb 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book was astounding. Genocide is impossible to understand but this book comes closer to explaining it more than any other book I've read.
Mar 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting and in-depth analysis of Rwanda, the Hutu and theTutsi, although very academic and so not an easy read.
Apr 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This new book by Mahmood Mamdani, one of the world's most respected Africa scholars, should be considered as the standard English-language introduction to Rwanda and its genocide. Mamdani's highly-readable account focuses on the political construction of Hutu and Tutsi as racial/ethnic identities, tracing the tale from the pre-colonial era, through Belgium's administration of the country, to the 1959 Revolution and subsequent attempts to develop an overarching sense of Rwandan nationhood. These ...more
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I realized the other day that Mamdani is one of the few non-fiction writers who I regularly read, regardless of my background knowledge of or interest in the topic. He writes as well as any author, weaving between grand but impeccably argued statements about the relationship between international and regional actors and governments and citizens of sub Saharan African countries, and incredibly detailed chapters which ultimately serve to support his argument. Obviously anyone with an interest in t ...more
I was amazed by both the depth and breadth of this book. I came out of it with a much better understanding (I think) of the multiplicity of causes leading up to the Rwandan genocide. My one critique would be that Mamdani's argument seems to loosen towards the end, particularly in his coverage of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, making his discussion of the years from 1980-1994 perhaps less precise and a little less adequate than desired. However, in terms of setting up the historical background so t ...more
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Rwandan genocide is a scar on human history, this book is thoughtful, rigorous and systematically researched and provides a detailed account of the causes of the war and genocide. Mamdani provides an in-depth scholarly account of the political, cultural and social forces which converged over a century. To his merit Mamdani manages to remain objective without losing sight of the tragedy, a fault of some authors, particularly those focused on finding economic interpretations.
Bennett Harrell
Jun 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very informative look at the buildup to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The author gives incite to what was happening in the surrounding areas leading up to the 1990 RPF invasion and the after effects of the civil war in Rwanda. My main drawback to this book was that a lot of information was repeated. The repeated information is important for understanding of what occurred but some of the repetition seem a bit much.
A fantastic look at the historical context leading to the Rwandan genocide, and an even better re-thinking of citizenship in post-colonial societies. Mamdani is always thought provoking and rewarding to read.
What sets Mamdani's book apart from the many others written about the Rwandan Genocide and its aftermath is his emphasis on the broader regional influences from Zaire and Uganda that played a role in this great tragedy.
Historical context of the Rwandan genocide. Not a book based on personal stories, but rather an informed view of a tragedy too often over-simplified.
Jan 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the Rwandan genocide
Solid theory.
Lashelle Hill
This book is written more like a textbook. It is not an easy read but does provide information and the authors insight.
Oct 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, cultural
Understanding the facts surrounding this absolute atrocity does not make comprehending it any less difficult, but it is important for any hope at "never again".
Should try to read again sometime. Just was too dense when I was younger.
When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda by Mahmood Mamdani (2002)
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