Being Near: Visiting the Rwandan Genocide Memorial Site at Murambi, Gikongoro

Jeff Stewart


Just as in our personal lives our worst fears and best hopes will never adequately prepare us for what actually happens, because the moment even a foreseen event takes place, everything changes, and we can never be prepared for the inexhaustible literalness of this ‘everything’… (Arendt, 1953: 389).


There is a trauma about being in Rwanda for me that needs to be acknowledged. This ‘everything’ that changes manifests in moments of ‘awakening’ in the sense suggested by Cathy Caruth:

As an awakening, the ethical relation to the real is the revelation of this impossible demand (of responsibility) at the heart of human consciousness (Caruth, 1995: 100).

Full Text:



African Rights. Gacaca Justice: A Shared Responsibility (Kigali: Africa Rights, 2003).

Agamben, Giorgio. Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (New York: Zone Books, 1999).

Arendt, Hannah. ‘Understanding Politics’, Partisan Review (New York: AMS Reprint Company, 1964).

Caruth, Cathy. ‘Traumatic Awakenings’, Kosofsky Sedgwick, Eve and Parker, Andrew (ed.). Performativity and Performance (New York: Routledge, 1995).

Casey, Edward S. Getting Back Into Place: Towards a Renewed Understanding of the Place- World (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993).

Clark, Suzanne. Sentimental Modernism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991).

Commission on Human Rights, Fiftieth session, November 1994, U.N. Document E/CN.41995/42, Preliminary report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, 20.htm

Cooke, Maeve. ‘The Ethics of Post-Holocaust Art: Reflections on Redemption and Representation’, German Life and Letters (April 2006).

Dallaire, LGen. Romeo with Beardsley Major Brent. Shake Hands With The Devil; the failure of humanity in Rwanda (Toronto: Vintage, 2004).

Davies, Cath. Personal email correspondence with author 10.4.06

Derrida, Jaques. The Work of Mourning, Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas (ed.), trans. Pascale-Anne Brault (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001).

Diop, Boubacar Boris. Murambi, The Book of Bones, trans. Fiona McLaughlin (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006; 2000).

Fagaala. Acogny, Germaine (artistic director/choreographer) Yamazaki, Kota (choreographer) Janti-Bi Company, Dance, the Arts Centre, Playhouse, Melbourne, 14.10.05

Frisch, Andrea. ‘The Ethics of Testimony: A Genealogical Perspective’, Discourse (2003). Gittoes, George. Common Theology, July (2002),

Gittoes, George. Sunday Arts, ABC Television, 15 October (2006),

Grehan, Helena. (Murdoch University), ‘Seduction and Estrangement: Performance, Ethics and Spectatorship in a Golden Age’, a paper at Being There: Before, During and After, the annual conference of the Australian Association for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, held at the University of Sydney’s Department of Performance Studies, July 2006.

Irigaray, Luce. Between East and West: From Singularity to Community, trans. Stephen Pluhacek, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002; 1999).

Jillet, Neil. ‘Melbourne International Arts Festival Review’, Sunday Age Newspaper, 16.10.05.

Kennedy, Les. Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper, 9.8.06.

Kennedy, Les. Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper, 10.8.06.

Kleinberg-Levin, David Michael. Gestures of Ethical Life: Reading Holderlin’s Question of Measure After Heidegger (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005).

Levinas, Emmanuel. Humanism of the Other, trans. Nidra Poller (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2003; 1972).

Levinas, Emmanuel. Totality and Infinity, trans. Alphonso Lingis (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1969; 1961).

Melvern, L.R. A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide, (Cape Town: NAEP, 2005).

Merton, Thomas. Spiritual Direction and Meditation (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1969).

Mirzoeff, Nicholas. ‘Invisible Again: Rwanda and Representation After Genocide’, African Arts,

Oliver, Kelly. Witnessing: Beyond Recognition (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2001).

Palamas, Gregory. The Triads, trans. Nicholas Gendle, forw. John Meyendorff (New York: Paulist Press, 1983; 1973).

Pepetela. The Return of the Water Spirit, trans. Luis R. Mitras (Oxford: Heinmann, 2002; 1995).

Rothfield, Philipa. Real Time,

Rwanda Peace Keepers

Sara, Sally. The World Today ABC Radio, 2003

Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper, 8.8.06


  • There are currently no refbacks.