Genocide in Rwanda: Media, Memory, and Denial Symposium--Film Screening: Brussels-Kigali
April 26, 2012 at 7:00 PM to
April 26, 2012 at 9:30 PM
Mumford Auditorium #133
The Spanish philosopher George Santayana warned that, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Santayana's warning stands in stark contrast to the universal pledge of "Never Again" when it comes to the recent history of genocide in the world. The lack of remembrance, or the conscious denial of past atrocities, has led to the repetition of genocide despite the resolve in 1948 not to let it happen again.
Genocide survivors are confronted not only with the self-protective refusal to remember the trauma of what happened to them, but also with the ongoing public campaign of genocide denial. The numerous voices of denial are gaining more prominence in the traditional media as well as in social media outlets. In addition, genocide deniers often argue that laws against genocide denial violate their right to freedom of speech and amount to political suppression by governments enacting such laws.
The challenge remains how to keep memory alive when "the killers of memory" are exploiting the electronic social media to drown out or silence the survivors' voices. Countries that endured genocide usually rely on survivors to speak about the past because as eyewitnesses they can testify more forcefully than a physical monument recognizing genocide.
But what will happen once the survivors are all gone? What will happen if they are completely silenced in the media by the voices of genocide deniers? Can genocide denial laws work without conflicting with the freedom of speech? Should memorial sites be destroyed, periods of mourning be cancelled, and genocide testimonies be silenced to avoid re-traumatization of the victims? Is it possible for post-genocide societies to move forward to a democratic and peaceful future without confronting and acknowledging the crimes of the past and sufferings of victims?
These are some of the central questions that panelists and participants will reflect on at this interdisciplinary symposium to explore recent genocides and the forces that promote forgetting and denial. Participants will also be examining issues of history, memory, denial, memorialization, trans-generational transmission of trauma, media manipulation and representation, freedom of expression laws, state ideology, and silencing.
The film Brussels-Kigali is based on the 2009 trial in Belgium of Ephrem Nkezabera, who was convicted in absentia for his involvement in the genocide against Tutsi in 1994. In the film, the testimonies of genocide survivors are set in parallel with the trial. Among the witnesses is the Belgian Martine Beckers, whose sister Clair Beckers (then married to a Tutsi) was killed with her family in Kigali. Martine Beckers, one of the participants in the symposium, will introduce the film.
Co-production Zeugma Films/Cobra Films (Brussels) Broadcasting: RTBF and Vosges Television-Images Plus
Sponsored by the Afro-Romance Institute, Dept. of Romance Languages & Literatures; Canadian Consulate in Chicago, IL; Embassy of Rwanda, Washington, DC; Step UP! American Assn. for Rwandan Women; Office of the Vice Provost of International Programs; Office of the Chancellor's Diversity Initiative; University Lectures Committee; Peace Studies Program; Departments of Black Studies, History, Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis (ELPA), Sociology, & Women and Gender Studies.
Romance Languages, 573-882-4874, email@example.com