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“Keep going despite everything”: legacies of genocide for Rwanda's children and youth

Kirrily Pells (Department of International Development, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 6 September 2011




Bringing together anthropological and sociological conceptions of “the everyday” with the new social studies of childhood, this paper seeks to challenge the predominance of the trauma paradigm in understanding the impact of the 1994 Rwandan genocide upon children and youth.


In focus group and ethnographic research conducted with Rwandan children and young people aged between 12 and 25, the challenges identified were primarily within their everyday lives, relationships and environments.


Building on the assertion that “we have great resilience to keep going” the resiliency and agency of children and young people in negotiating an ongoing nexus between violence and peace is emphasized.

Research limitations/implications

This is not to deny the horrendous nature of the genocide, or that there are some children with enduring severe psychological problems. However, the trauma paradigm is only one way of capturing the legacies of the genocide and can give rise to a misplaced emphasis on passivity and vulnerability. The framework of the everyday provides a holistic paradigm for policies and programmes addressing the situation of children and young people post‐conflict and builds upon their resources and competencies.


This paper offers a more complex and nuanced understanding of trauma, resilience and the legacies of genocide for children and young people.



Pells, K. (2011), "“Keep going despite everything”: legacies of genocide for Rwanda's children and youth", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 31 No. 9/10, pp. 594-606.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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