Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Women's Studies and Feminist Research


Dr. Amanda Grzyb


This dissertation raises complex questions about historical truth, the pursuit of justice, and processes of memorialization vis-à-vis one case study of the Rwandan genocide: the Nyarubuye Church massacre, where members of the Interahamwe militia and their accomplices murdered tens of thousands of (mainly) Tutsi men, women and children, April 15th-17th, 1994. As a microcosm of larger patterns of the genocide and its aftermath, I analyze official discourses to uncover how this specific event is framed and understood, with a focus on the widespread perpetration of sexual violence. Specifically, I provide a chronological reconstruction of the massacre, investigate transcripts of the ICTR Prosecutor v. Gacumbitsi trial in detail, analyze the memorial site in a comparative perspective, and explore theoretical discussions about how rape functioned during the genocide, and how it has been understood and represented in post-genocide Rwanda. This dissertation contributes to an interdisciplinary scholarly trajectory that takes a narrow focus on one event, drawing out analyses and questions with wider implications, at the intersection of genocide studies, feminist work on sexual violence, developments in international law, and the politics of memory. Nyarubuye is a site that offers meaningful insights about genocidal rape – how it functioned in the Rwandan genocide, how it was dealt with from a judicial perspective, and how it has been imprinted in national memory.