Recommended reading on ethnicity in Rwanda & Burundi?

As mentioned in a previous post, I’m currently working on an MA thesis about post-conflict governance in Rwanda and Burundi.  Specifically, I’m interested in the ways in which popular ethnic reconciliation has occurred (or not occurred) in both countries.  There’s a decent amount of scholarly attention paid to Rwanda’s official denial of ethnicity and this policy’s detrimental effects upon popular reconciliation, but when discussion of Burundi occurs, it’s usually limited to the observation that consociationalism seems to have been efficacious in reducing ethnic tensions.  I haven’t found much research into the mechanisms by which Burundi’s reconciliation has occurred, which strikes me as a very interesting question. Since I can’t pop over to Burundi for research between now and December, I’m mostly planning to review the extant literature on this question and highlight areas for future research.

My current reading list is below; any additional suggestions or comments would be most welcome!  (I have more literature sitting unsorted on my hard drive, but this is what I successfully glanced through before my prospectus was due this week.)



Rwanda & Burundi


14 thoughts on “Recommended reading on ethnicity in Rwanda & Burundi?

  1. A great list. I can’t add much, but around the edges I’d say Mamdani’s “From Justice to Reconciliation” (Nordic Africa Institute, 1997) and Reyntjens’s “Governance and Security in Rwanda” (in Security Dynamics of the Great Lakes, ed. Khadiagala, 2006).

    By the way, many of the links don’t work – ie, the Lemarchand article under Rwanda & Burundi.


  2. If you want to argue that (i) Burundi is doing better than Rwanda and (ii) there are different ethnic groups there, then should be an interesting read.
    You have listed an HRW publication on Gacaca and if you think that is relevant you might read Phil Clark’s book on this since he is broadly positive about it and (unlike HRW) researched it for years IN Rwanda doing 100s of interviews. A bias towards people who have taken the time to research issues in Rwanda might be worthwhile too.
    Maybe you might also include a piece on post-conflict reconciliation after the American Civil War. Americans still applaud the death penalty which is applied disproportionately to black defendants mostly in the South and often after dubious trials. Might the US ever develop sufficiently to abolish the death penalty?


      1. “Phil Clark’s book on this since he is broadly positive about it and (unlike HRW) researched it for years IN Rwanda doing 100s of interviews.”

        Phil Clark has researched through, not for, years. He is used to spend couple of months in Rwanda every year – that makes a huge difference to me. Furthermore, he does not speak kinyarwanda and he does not mention his interpreters/translators. The book can nonetheless be useful, but it’s worth to keep all the rest in mind.


  3. Also, thanks for the list – I’ve been meaning to catch up on some Burundi reading and there’s a bunch of stuff here I either hadn’t seen or which came out after my thesis. Fun times for me this weekend :-)


  4. I wrote my MA thesis on gender and DDR in Burundi in 2010 – some things not on your list that I remember finding useful were (copied and pasted from my bibliography):

    Boshoff, Henri Jean Marie Gasana, and Richard Cornwell, Burundi: The End of the Tunnel, Situation Report (Institute for Security Studies, February 2009).

    Douma, Pyt and Jean Marie Gasana, Reintegration in Burundi: between happy cows and lost investments, The R-phase of DDR processes: an overview of key lessons learned and practical experiences

    El Abdellaoui, Jamila. Another crossroad for Burundi: From the FNL to peaceful elections in 2010. Situation Report. Institute for Security Studies, November 2009.

    Mbura Kamungi, Prisca, Johnstone Summit Oketch, and Chris Huggins. “Land Access and the Return and Resettlement of IDPs and Refugees in Burundi.” In From the Ground Up: Land Rights, Conflict and Peace in Sub-Saharan Africa, edited by Chris Huggins and Jenny Clover, 195-267. Pretoria: Institute for Security Studies, 2005.

    Uvin, Peter “Structural causes, development co-operation and conflict prevention in Burundi and Rwanda.” Conflict, Security & Development 10, no. 1 (2010): 161.

    Verwimp, Philip and Tom Bundervoet, Civil War and the Welfare of Extended Households: Evidence from Longitudinal Data from Burundi, Households in Conflict Network, Working Paper No. 70

    There are several publications by the Small Arms Survey that have interesting and useful information on rates and nature of armed violence in Burundi.

    Willy Nindorera is also very good though can’t remember which of his publications it was that I liked.

    If you’d find it useful I’ll happily send you my full bibliography and the bibliography from another paper I wrote on corruption in Burundi – you should be able to pull my email address from this comment, no?


  5. Mahmoud Mamdami’s “When victims become killers” – obviously a bit genocide focused, but the best historical summary of developments in ethnicity in Rwanda I’ve read. Or is that too obvious?


  6. Reyntjens also wrote something about Rwanda’s political changes post-genocide. I found it useful for a paper I worked on. I think it’s in African Affairs maybe 04/05ish?


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