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Narrating Itsembabwoko

When Literature becomes Testimony of Genocide

Josias Semujanga

The tenacious belief in a disjunction of genocide and art has risen a persisting polemic in literary cricism. Narrating Itsembabwoko challenges this dichotomous thinking by assuming that a narrative about genocide is both a work and a testimony because the sense-making in work is a shared construction between writing, reading, and meaning to the point that artistic expression seems to be the irreplaceable nature of art to ensure the memory of events. The main assumption is that the aesthetic process brings together the forms, motifs, or themes already available in the vast field of literature and art, which are known to the reader, and integrates them in a particular text; however, the axiological process is an argumentative level, which governs and shapes the enunciated values in the work. This book shows how through their works writers seek forms – language or genre – that allow them to represent the horror of extermination, making the reader think about the moral range of narratives about genocide – fiction or testimony – using words that communicate the values of humanity, in opposition to the macabre deployment of absolute evil.

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Abacamaraka, in hunting, elite shooters, 54–55 Abanyacyandaro, the trackers’ group, 53 Abanyamuheto, hunters with bow and arrows, 53 Adorno, Theodor, 14, 63, 76, 151, 234, 242 Agamben, Giorgio, 99, 234 Amajyambere, the sign of going forward or of progress, 156 Améry, Jean, 184, 234 Arendt, Hannah, 35, 37, 105, 194, 202, 219, 234 Bahutu Manifesto, 38, 45–46, 48, 50–51, 84, 183 Bantu, 42, 43, 44, 50, 123, 194 Banyarwanda, men and women of Rwanda community, 38, 48, 51, 83, 132, 230 Barthes, Roland, 235 Blanchot, Maurice, 18, 19, 235 Braeckman, Colette 46, 235 Brinker, Virginie, 24, 235 Camus, Albert, 77, 79, 115, 118, 171, 222, 235 Canaan, 39 Césaire, Aimé, 34, 95–96, 168, 170, 235 Cham, 11, 39–40, 43–44, 123, 234, 238 Coquio, Catherine, 236, 238 Dallaire, Roméo, 10–11, 16, 35, 201–202, 204, 207–222, 233 Darwinism, 40 Dauge-Roth, Alexandre, 19, 24, 236 Delcuvellerie, Jacques, 154, 235, 236 Diop, Boubacar Boris, 14, 15, 33–34, 100–101, 108–111, 113–114, 225 Ertel, Rachel, 5, 236 Gallimore, Béatrice, 19, 236 Gihanga or Kanyarwanda, a mythic ancestor of Banyar- wanda, 38, 51 Gobineau, Joseph Arthur, 31, 42, 237 Habyarimana, Juvénal, 5, 49, 63, 71, 83–84, 101, 103–104, 109, 121, 140–141, 169, 192, 242 Hamite, 32, 42–44 Harroy, Jean-Paul, 46, 237 Hatzfeld, Jean, 55, 56, 64, 237 Hill, Geoffrey, 98, 237 Holocaust, 9–11, 14, 19, 26, 31–33, 36, 59, 65, 77, 81, 82,...

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