Online book presentation by Omar Shahabudin McDoom

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​The Path to Genocide in Rwanda:  Security, Opportunity, and Authority in an Ethnocratic State (Cambridge University Press, 2020) draws on extensive and unique field evidence, collected over many years, to offer rigorous answers to two simple but fundamental questions often asked about the genocide. How and why did it occur? And how and why did many Rwandans participate in it? Drawing on interviews with several hundred Rwandans, the book systematically compares those who participated in the violence against those who did not; and contrasts communities that experienced violence early with communities where violence began late, as well as communities where violence was limited with communities where it was massive.

For those interested in Rwanda, the book offers perspectives on a number of perplexing and troubling questions. Was the genocide the product of elite decisions 'at the top' or was there also popular pressure 'from below'? Were the perpetrators all 'ordinary', and if not, what explains why some persons killed but others not? Did the violence occur so quickly that the international community could do nothing to stop it? For scholars of conflict and violence, the book engages with core theoretical debates on the causal role of emotions, ideology, and ethnicity in genocide. It also speaks to specialist topics such as intra-ethnic competition, ex-post radicalization, anti-social capital, extra-lethal violence, perpetrator heterogeneity, and micro-mobilization.

Omar Shahabudin McDoom teaches political science at the London School of Economics. He has been engaged in research on Rwanda since 2003.

Date: 4 February 2021 from 1.00 pm until 3.00 pm