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Societies 2017, 7(3), 24; doi:10.3390/soc7030024

How Legacies of Genocide Are Transmitted in the Family Environment: A Qualitative Study of Two Generations in Rwanda

1
Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR), Amsterdam, 1081 HV, The Netherlands
2
Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), Amsterdam, 1018 WV, The Netherlands
3
Criminal Law and Criminology, VU University, Amsterdam, 1081 HV, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 June 2017 / Revised: 3 September 2017 / Accepted: 7 September 2017 / Published: 14 September 2017
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Abstract

The 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda and its aftermath led to large-scale individual traumatization, disruption of family structures, shifts in gender roles, and tensions in communities, which are all ongoing. Previous research around the world has demonstrated the transgenerational effects of mass violence on individuals, families and communities. In Rwanda, in light of recurrent episodes of violence in the past, attention to the potential ‘cycle of violence’ is warranted. The assumption that violence is passed from generation to generation was first formulated in research on domestic violence and child abuse, but is receiving increasing attention in conflict-affected societies. However, the mechanisms behind intergenerational transmission are still poorly understood. Based on qualitative research with 41 mothers and their adolescent children, we investigated how legacies of the 1994 genocide and its aftermath are transmitted to the next generation through processes in the family environment in Rwanda. Our findings reveal direct and indirect pathways of transmission. We also argue that intergenerational effects might best be described as heterotypic: genocide and its aftermath lead to multiple challenges in the children’s lives, but do not necessarily translate into new physical violence. Further research is needed on how children actively engage with conflict legacies of the past. View Full-Text
Keywords: intergenerational transmission; cycle of violence; genocide; trauma; families; Rwanda intergenerational transmission; cycle of violence; genocide; trauma; families; Rwanda
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Berckmoes, L.H.; Eichelsheim, V.; Rutayisire, T.; Richters, A.; Hola, B. How Legacies of Genocide Are Transmitted in the Family Environment: A Qualitative Study of Two Generations in Rwanda. Societies 2017, 7, 24.

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