Re-visiting the Rwandan Genocide: New Book Presentation by Omar McDoom

WIDER Seminar Series

Re-visiting the Rwandan Genocide: New Book Presentation by Omar McDoom

Omar McDoom presents at the WIDER Seminar Series on 20 October.


The Path to Genocide in Rwanda: Security, Opportunity, and Authority in an Ethnocratic State (Cambridge University Press, 2021) draws on extensive and unique field evidence, collected over many years, to offer rigorous answers to two simple but fundamental questions often asked about the genocide. How and why did it occur? And how and why did many Rwandans participate in it? Drawing on interviews with several hundred Rwandans, the book systematically compares those who participated in the violence against those who did not; and contrasts communities that experienced violence early with communities where violence began late, as well as communities where violence was limited with communities where it was massive.

For those interested in Rwanda, the book offers perspectives on a number of perplexing and troubling questions. Was the genocide the product of elite decisions 'at the top' or was there also popular pressure 'from below'? Were the perpetrators all 'ordinary', and if not, what explains why some persons killed but others not? Did the violence occur so quickly that the international community could do nothing to stop it? For scholars of conflict and violence, the book engages with core theoretical debates on the causal role of emotions, ideology, and ethnicity in genocide. It also speaks to specialist topics such as intra-ethnic competition, ex-post radicalization, anti-social capital, extra-lethal violence, perpetrator heterogeneity, and micro-mobilization.

Link: Cambridge University Press (2021)

About the speaker

Omar Shahabudin McDoom is Associate Professor in Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics. He has been engaged in research on Rwanda since 2003.

WIDER Seminar Series

The WIDER Seminar Series showcases the latest research on key topics in development economics. It provides a forum for senior and early-career researchers, both inhouse and external, to present recent and ongoing work related to UNU-WIDER’s current work programme.

In addition to providing a forum for both academic debate and training, the series presents an opportunity for policy makers and others interested in development to learn about the latest research methods and findings.

In autumn 2021, the Seminar Series events take place on Wednesdays from 16:00–17:00. All those interested are invited to register and attend via Zoom.