Within this research, we seek to understand how and why individual acts of genocide and resistance vary across time and space. To answer this question, data is collected about the Rwandan genocide of 1994 along with information about numerous political-economic factors, by the district- and prefecture-day. We compiled this information from diverse NGOs within as well as outside of Rwanda, government documents from the Rwandan government and diverse archives held in the U.S., France and Belgium. The project proposed here has numerous implications. First, it provides insight into one of the most significant and violent events in human history. Second, it improves our understanding of a part of the world that has largely been neglected by rigorous empirical investigation and one that has repeatedly experienced mass killing – albeit at various levels of severity. This is something of a major limitation within existing social science literature, which should attempt to be generalizable across all parts of the world. Third, and last, the project provides general insight into how one should go about investigating contentious politics/conflict processes in the future – exploring within-case variation. Such an approach influences not simply our study and understanding of conflict behavior, but also our conceptions of when and where we should intervene into such activities in an attempt to stop them as well as where and how we should go about trying to reconcile populations after this behavior has ended. These suggestions would involve important collaborations across subfields (contentious politics with public and foreign policy in the first case and with law as well as public opinion within the second case). Before such collaborations could take place, however, our understanding of conflict (the weakest of the three) would need to be developed further.

Mentioned within the introduction, our larger project, of which this data analysis project is a part, involves exploring the influence of genocidal activity on local, community-based truth and reconciliation (T and R) efforts and the future development of civil society, democracy and the economy. Unlike T and R efforts in South Africa, which were more centralized and nationally oriented, Rwanda is currently engaging in an effort that is more decentralized and community-oriented. In an attempt to try the 120,000 individuals accused of low-level genocide activity, the Rwandan government revived a historical practice that has not been operative for generations – the Gacaca system. The courts affiliated with Gacaca are being placed in every cell (adjudicating property violations), secteur (adjudicating cases with violence but without the intent to kill), district (adjudicating cases resulting in death or where individuals are accused of being accomplices to such violence) as well as appeals from the sector level, and prefecture (which are only handling appeals of the district courts. The judgments of these courts rely completely on judges with less than two months training and eyewitness testimony. We expect that the activities of the courts and eyewitnesses, the efficacy and trust in Gacaca and popular challenges to this effort (which are being led by the survivor’s association Ibuka) will vary significantly across the country. We will attempt to investigate further this process within a national survey of Rwandan society next year – expanding on an effort undertaken last year in the Butare prefecture. We hope to be able to analyze those survey data and to be able to control for the varying effects of the mobilization and structural factors developed with the research we propose here.