restricted access 1. Social Classification, State Power, and Violence
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41 Dur­ ing the years lead­ ing up to the gen­ o­ cide (1990–94) and those after the gen­ o­ cide (1994–2001), vi­ o­ lence, war, and ter­ ror ­ formed the back­ drop of daily life in ­ Rwanda. Under­ stand­ ing ­ women’s ex­ pe­ ri­ ences of vi­ o­ lence dur­ ing each of these pe­ ri­ ods is cen­ tral to ex­ plain­ ing ­ women’s roles in post­ gen­ o­ cide re­ con­ struc­ tion. Gen­ der is but one as­ pect of a whole net­ work of inter­ con­ nected so­ cial cat­ e­ go­ ries, in­ clud­ ing lin­ e­ age, clan, eth­ nic­ ity, eco­ nomic class, po­ lit­ i­ cal af­fi l­ i­ a­ tion, and ed­ u­ ca­ tion level, in which Rwan­ dan women are en­ meshed. The ways women make sense of the past and ex­ plain the­ present are ­ caught up in local and na­ tional pol­ i­ tics, state build­ ing, the ways­ elites write his­ tory to suit their po­ lit­ i­ cal agen­ das, and the ways the ­ state’s of­fi­ cial his­ tory con­ flicts with in­ di­ vid­ ual lived his­ to­ ries and ex­ pe­ ri­ ences of vi­ o­ lence. I begin this chap­ ter by ex­ am­ in­ ing the ev­ o­ lu­ tion of so­ cial cat­ e­ go­ ries, spe­ cif­i­ cally, gen­ der and eth­ nic­ ity, from the pre­ co­ lo­ nial pe­ riod until the 1990s. I then an­ a­ lyze four con­ stel­ la­ tions of state power and vi­ o­ lent con­ flict from 1990 to 2001 that ­ shaped the treach­ er­ ous ter­ rains that Rwan­ dan 1 So­ cial Clas­ sifi­ ca­ tion, State Power, and Vi­ o­ lence 42 Social Classification, State Power, and Violence women nav­ i­ gated through­ out the 1990s. ­ Though not all Rwan­ dan women are gen­ o­ cide sur­ vi­ vors, they all found them­ selves the tar­ gets of ­ state-led vi­ o­ lence or op­ pres­ sion at some point dur­ ing the 1990s. Rwan­ dan Gen­ der Cos­ mol­ ogy Rwan­ dan con­ cep­ tions of gen­ der di­ verge from the dom­ i­ nant bi­ nary ­ system of male/fe­ male typ­ i­ cal in Eu­ rope and North Amer­ ica. Rwan­ dan gen­ der cat­ e­ go­ ries are em­ bed­ ded in one’s role in the kin group and in the com­ mu­ nity, and age and re­ pro­ duc­ tive ­ status serve as struc­ tu­ ral ele­ ments of gen­ der. Table 1 rep­ re­ sents the Rwan­ dan gen­ der cos­ mol­ ogy. Male and fe­ male ba­ bies (uru­ hinja) and chil­ dren (abana) under the age of four years are gen­ er­ ally­ treated the same by their par­ ents, rel­ a­ tives, and com­ mu­ nity mem­ bers. In the re­ cent past, there were no gen­ der dif­fer­ ences in dress for in­ fants. Since the 1970s, the used cloth­ ing in­ dus­ try and pref­ er­ ence for West­ ern dress have­ changed this prac­ tice. Urban and rural fam­ i­ lies with the fi­ nan­ cial means to do so dress in­ fants in ­ gender-appropriate col­ ors—blue for boys and pink for girls—fol­ low­ ing the West­ ern idiom. Dis­ tinc­ tions ­ between sons (ab­ a­ hungu) and daugh­ ters (ab­ a­ kobwa) begin ­ around four years of age when they take on house­ hold ­ chores. Girls are more ­ likely to be sent to fetch water, help with the prep­ ar­ a­ tion of food, and sweep out the fam­ ily com­ pound, while boys are more ­ likely to be sent to watch over live­ stock. Yet life ­ status or age dis­ tinc­ tions are just as im­ por­ tant and are di­ rectly ­ linked to land ­ rights. Daugh­ ters have roles in the fam­ ily and so­ ci­ ety that are dif­fer­ ent from those of wives (ab­ a­ gore or abat­ e­ gar­ u­ gori). In the more dis­ tant past, young, un­ mar­ ried women or maid­ ens (abari)­ ranged in age from about fif­teen to ­ twenty years of age. “Maid­ ens” is my trans­ la­ tion of the Kin­ yar­ wanda word abari, which means ­ roughly “girls ripe for mar­ riage” and has no exact equiv­ a­ lent in stan­ dard ­ American En­ glish. The word...