• Rwanda's Genocide Heritage: Between Memory and Sovereignty
    Delia Duong Ba Wendel
    Duke University Press, 2022
    Delia Duong Ba Wendel

Genocide victims’ cemetery near Nyamata Parish. 1994, Rwanda. Courtesy M. Ibarra personal archive, Chile

Rwanda’s Genocide Heritage is a spatial history of genocide memory in Rwanda. It reconstructs why Rwanda’s genocide memorials display the remains of the dead and how such sites originally came to be. The book explores a past made present: how certain memories gained presence, were authorized, and marginalized other narratives. That this history was entangled in nascent global human rights practice in the late twentieth century complicates the view that genocide memorials were influenced by Holocaust memorialization. It instead substantiates another center—that of Global South activists and human rights experts—who spatialized memory to reveal otherwise hidden violence. The material representation of brutal, marginalized memories approximated justice and continues today in initiatives by Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo in Argentina and the National Lynching Memorial in the southern United States. In this context, genocide memory work in Rwanda crystallized the shift toward a new, global “era of heritage.”

Delia Duong Ba Wendel explores the politics of memory and spaces of peacebuilding and conflict in East Africa and the United States. To do so, she draws together urban planning, cultural geography, architectural history, and anthropology. Currently an assistant professor of urban studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she received a doctorate in urban planning from Harvard University. She previously taught in African Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was also a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Humanities Center. She has held positions as lecturer at Harvard University in Urban Design and Planning and Landscape Architecture and as assistant professor of architectural design at the University of Edinburgh. Previous publications include a book coedited with Fallon Aidoo, Spatializing Politics: Essays on Power and Place (Harvard University Press, 2015), which received funding from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.