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Taylor, Lisa, Umwali Sollange, and Marie-Jolie Rwigema. "The Ethics of Learning from Rwandan Survivor Communities: Critical Reflexivity and the Politics of Knowledge Production in Genocide Education." In Beyond Testimony and Trauma: Oral History in the Aftermath of Mass Violence, edited by Steven High, 88-118. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2015.


These three authors have written a chapter that incorporates and reflects upon their experiences regarding “problematic uses of testimony” as they tried to implement a high school educational initiative: to create a course for juniors about genocide. A key goal of the authors is to unpack “the ethical and epistemic challenges that occur when schools and survivor and stakeholder communities seek to build relationships of reciprocity and meaningful collaboration in the teaching and study of the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis.” The course is not just about the telling of the stories of survivors of the Rwandan genocide, but, in collaboration with survivor communities, it also involves re-examining the way that these stories are utilized in genocide education as “voracious empathy risks being an exercise in emotional tourism, an ahistorical, sentimentalized, and romanticized ‘feeling good about feeling bad’…(leading to) the ‘theft of pain.’” A hope is that by investigating the histories, learners could understand that testimony should be seen as a “gift that inaugurates a relationship of answerability and ongoing care.”

Shannon Leggett