All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Peter Verbeek

Advisory Committee Members

Douglas Fry

Tina Kempin Reuter

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


STORIES FROM RWANDAN CHURCHES PRIOR TO THE GENOCIDE: A COLLECTION OF ORAL HISTORIES CARMEN A. LAU ANTHROPOLOGY PEACE & HUMAN RTS ABSTRACT As a tragedy in which religion did not serve as demarcation between rival groups, the Rwandan Genocide provides an example of Christians killing Christians. I use interviews from 14 Rwandan survivors who were Seventh-day Adventists, a Protestant group to which both heroes and villains belonged. Based on Eisler’s Theory of Cultural Transfor-mation, I assume that narratives inform action. I examine oral histories through a frame-work that searches for elements of Girard’s Mimetic Rivalry that might have influenced Adventists to participate in violence. In addition, using recollections of verbal discourse heard by participants, I identify words or concepts that could demonstrate relevant compo-nents from Graham and Haidt’s Moral Foundation Theory (MFT), and I note biblical refer-ences that were used to justify action. The stories show evidence that the Adventist church imitated the actions of the Rwandan government and broader society and coalesced into scapegoating based on ethnicity. In addition, the stories show the presence of MFT intui-tions that support group cohesion: loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, sancti-ty/degradation. For the Adventists I interviewed, group cohesion did not come from reli-gious affiliation, but from the political imprint of ethnicity. Keywords: Rwandan Genocide, Seventh-day Adventist, Stories, Mimetic Rivalry, Moral Foundations Theory, Cultural Transformation



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