Doctoral student travels to Rwanda for dissertation researchOctober 02, 2012
Kristin A. Bell traveled to Kigali, Rwanda in August 2012 for her dissertation research. She seeks to understand the phenomenon of sexual violence as genocide through an examination of oral history interviews with survivors of the Armenian and Rwandan genocides. These two cases represent stark contrasts in time, place, and legal context. The Armenian genocide occurred in 1915, before the term “genocide” existed to describe such atrocities and before there was an international protocol for dealing with such crimes. In contrast, the Rwandan genocide of 1994 represents a landmark case in international humanitarian law: it was the first time that sexual violence was legally recognized as genocide. By examining survivor discourse, Kristin hopes to learn what survivors’ experiences may imply for existing international law. She received funding from both the National Association of Armenian Studies and Research and the Harry and Ovsanna Chitjian Family Foundation to travel to Rwanda, where she obtained transcripts of interviews with survivors from the Kigali Memorial Center. Kristin plans on defending her dissertation proposal in November 2012.