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‘Invaders who have stolen the country': The Hamitic Hypothesis, Race and the Rwandan Genocide

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The use in genocidal propaganda of a modified ‘Hamitic Hypothesis' (the assertion that African ‘civilisation' was due to racially distinct Caucasoid invaders from the north/north-east of Africa) has become a key feature of commentary on the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In order to historicise the Hypothesis, the article first traces the transformation by European anthropology of the ‘Hamite' in to a racial object and how the extraneous provenance of ‘the Tutsi' was articulated in colonial Rwanda. The article then critically assesses the centrality of the Hypothesis in constructing the Tutsi population as a target of genocide. Finally, the article explores both the inadvertent and explicit ways in which contemporary commentary reiterates aspects of the ‘Hamitic assemblage'.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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