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Photography, Film and Visibly Wounded Genocide Survivors in Rwanda

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Over the past two decades survivors of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda have been represented by an increasingly varied range of photographers and filmmakers. International photographers responding to the aftermath of this violence have tended to focus on bearing witness to a genocide that the world failed to acknowledge at the time. One strategy for doing this has been to foreground a relatively small number of visibly wounded genocide survivors who recur in work by different artists. This article analyses representations of six such disabled survivors to explore the strengths and limitations of varying artistic strategies and trace their evolution across time. In doing so it draws on disability theory, contextual material and interviews with Rwandan artists. Whilst some photographers continue to instrumentalize the visible wounds of survivors as metaphor, this is often complicated when the visual image is accompanied by extended text or dialogue. More recent work, including work by Rwandan artists, further prioritizes the survivor’s perspective and ongoing lived experiences rather than solely the events of genocide in 1994.
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Keywords: Rwanda; disability; film; genocide; photography; survivors

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Departments of English and Comparative Literature, King's College London, London, UK

Publication date: January 2, 2019

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