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The Dynamics of Violence in Central Africa

by Rene Lemarchand

Endowed with natural resources, majestic bodies of fresh water, and a relatively mild climate, the Great Lakes region of Central Africa has also been the site of some of the world's bloodiest atrocities. In Rwanda, Burundi, and the Congo-Kinshasa, decades of colonial subjugation--most infamously under Belgium's Leopold II--were followed by decades of civil warfare that spilled into neighboring countries. When these conflicts lead to horrors such as the 1994 Rwandan genocide, ethnic difference and postcolonial legacies are commonly blamed, but, with so much at stake, such simple explanations cannot take the place of detailed, dispassionate analysis.The Dynamics of Violence in Central Africa provides a thorough exploration of the contemporary crises in the region. By focusing on the historical and social forces behind the cycles of bloodshed in Rwanda, Burundi, and the Congo-Kinshasa, René Lemarchand challenges much of the conventional wisdom about the roots of civil strife in former Belgian Africa. He offers telling insights into the appalling cycle of genocidal violence, ethnic strife, and civil war that has made the Great Lakes region of Central Africa the most violent on the continent, and he sheds new light on the dynamics of conflict in the region.Building on a full career of scholarship and fieldwork, Lemarchand's analysis breaks new ground in our understanding of the complex historical forces that continue to shape the destinies of one of Africa's most important regions.

Forgotten Genocides

by Rene Lemarchand

Unlike the Holocaust, Rwanda, Cambodia, or Armenia, scant attention has been paid to the human tragedies analyzed in this book. From German Southwest Africa (now Namibia), Burundi, and eastern Congo to Tasmania, Tibet, and Kurdistan, from the mass killings of the Roms by the Nazis to the extermination of the Assyrians in Ottoman Turkey, the mind reels when confronted with the inhuman acts that have been consigned to oblivion.Forgotten Genocides: Oblivion, Denial, and Memory gathers eight essays about genocidal conflicts that are unremembered and, as a consequence, understudied. The contributors, scholars in political science, anthropology, history, and other fields, seek to restore these mass killings to the place they deserve in the public consciousness. Remembrance of long forgotten crimes is not the volume's only purpose--equally significant are the rich quarry of empirical data offered in each chapter, the theoretical insights provided, and the comparative perspectives suggested for the analysis of genocidal phenomena. While each genocide is unique in its circumstances and motives, the essays in this volume explain that deliberate concealment and manipulation of the facts by the perpetrators are more often the rule than the exception, and that memory often tends to distort the past and blame the victims while exonerating the killers.Although the cases discussed here are but a sample of a litany going back to biblical times, Forgotten Genocides offers an important examination of the diversity of contexts out of which repeatedly emerge the same hideous realities.

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