Traumas of modernity? A multiple modernities approach to Rwanda

As part of the Sociology and Social Policy (SSP) seminar series, 'Traumas of modernity? A multiple modernities approach to Rwanda' will be presented by Dr Jack Palmer.

Abstract: In this paper, I will explore a suggestive though unelaborated claim made by S. N. Eisenstadt in his programmatic ‘Multiple Modernities’ essay. Here, he claimed that the 1994 genocide which took place in Rwanda represented a ‘trauma of modernity’, and that it was in an important sense a product of a ‘dialogue between seemingly traditional forces and modern reconstruction’. I suggest that the framework pioneered by Eisenstadt, which emphasises a plurality of interpretations and institutionalisations of the ‘cultural programme’ of modernity, sheds significant light on the historical trajectory of Rwanda in the 20th century. Several advantages emerge from situating this trajectory within the context of the dialogue between tradition and modern reconstruction, not least that it constitutes a substantive response to deconstructions of the Eurocentrism of core concepts in social theory.

At the same time, the case of Rwanda also highlights some important omissions or under-elaborated aspects within the ‘multiple modernities’ approach, namely discussions of the various modalities of colonial rule and attendant processes of racialisation, and the severe limitations placed on postcolonial governments by international and global entanglements. I will also discuss how this argument forms part of a forthcoming book, based on my PhD, entitled Entanglements of Modernity, Colonialism and Genocide: Burundi and Rwanda in Historical-Sociological Perspective.

All welcome! There is no need to book.

Location Details

Room 12.21 and 12.25
Social Sciences Building 
University of Leeds

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